Novak Djokovic's younger brother Marko recently spoke with El Mundo about how the World No. 1 has played through pain and injury at certain points in his career. Marko also shed light on his brother's relationship with Pepe Imaz, and the importance of diet and meditation to his success.
Talking first about the elbow injury that Djokovic suffered in 2016, Marko claimed that the Serb was in acute pain during much of his claycourt preparations that year.
"In 2016, Novak injured his elbow," Marko said. "At that time, I was traveling with him for a few weeks and I remember him screaming in pain at every serve during training."
Novak Djokovic was chasing his first Roland Garros title back then, which would have also given him a rare non-calendar Slam (winning four Slams in a row, but not in the same year). He ultimately managed to beat the odds in Paris, beating Andy Murray in the final to lift the elusive trophy.
However, the physical exertion from the fortnight, coupled with the increased expectations from the tennis world, ended up worsening Djokovic's elbow injury.
"Despite this, he emptied himself in Roland Garros and managed to win," Marko said. "Then he was deflated... not only did he suffer a very bad injury but, although he had already reached one of his great goals of the season, people continued to expect more of him: the Olympic Games, the US Open, the No. 1, etc."
Novak Djokovic follows the same diet, meditating, but no one talks about 'Love and Peace': Marko Djokovic
Novak Djokovic fell into a deep slump after the Canada Masters that year, and failed to win a single big title until 2018. It was also around this time that Djokovic's adherence to Pepe Imaz's methodologies, like meditation and healing hugs, started doing the rounds of the media.
Novak Djokovic stopped his tennis work with Pepe Imaz in 2018, turning instead to former coach Marian Vadja to help him stage a career renaissance. But while Djokovic and Imaz are no longer professionally linked, Marko has now revealed that his brother still employs some practices that he found useful during his association with the philosophical guru.
"Now Novak is No. 1 and continues to work with Pepe , following the same diet, meditating, etc." Marko said. "But no one talks about 'Love and Peace' anymore."
Marko, who himself used to compete on the tour a few years ago, then remarked that his brother is playing better than ever despite being in his mid-30s. Marko attributed that to the World No. 1's incredible work ethic and focus.
"People say that Novak is playing better than ever and it is because he is working a lot on himself, contemplating his fears and his shortcomings to be more focused when he goes out on the court," Marko said.