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Novak Djokovic feels he shouldn't focus solely on tennis anymore, says there are things in his life he "can't neglect"

Novak Djokovic with his wife Jelena Ristic
Novak Djokovic with his wife Jelena Ristic
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 13 Nov 2020, 18:39 IST
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Novak Djokovic believes he needs to balance his tennis career along with his family and other interests, dismissing suggestions that he should focus all his energies on becoming the Greatest Of All Time or GOAT.

Over the past few months, several tennis experts have questioned whether Novak Djokovic's off-court activities - such as organizing the Adria Tour and launching the Professional Tennis Player's Association - have distracted him from his on-court goals. But the Serb feels he has gone past the age where he could push everything other than tennis into the background.

“Whether I should focus on tennis and nothing else, I think that’s impossible for me anymore,” Novak Djokovic said in a recent interview. “I’m not at this stage of my life anymore. I have things happening in my life and can’t neglect that and think only about winning a tennis trophy and breaking records without thinking about my kids, family and other things. I’m fine balancing that."

Novak Djokovic, who has two children with wife Jelena, went on to explain the difference between improving as a tennis player and improving as a husband and father. He believes the former is easier since he has been doing it for a long time, while the latter is something he is still new at.

“Because I’ve played tennis since four, so more or less every single day for almost 30 years of my life, I think I’ve mastered improving specific areas of my game. I find it easier to improve on a tennis court, although I’m still training to be a better husband and father, I’m still young at that,” Djokovic said.

Having had plenty of success in the past is a huge incentive, but also it can be a burden: Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic at the 2015 ATP Finals
Novak Djokovic at the 2015 ATP Finals

Novak Djokovic is a five-time champion at the Nitto ATP Finals, which begins in London on Sunday. Although Djokovic is satisfied with his season so far (during which he has won four titles, including his 17th major title at the Australian Open in January), he still wants to do his best at the season-ending event.

“When I draw a line under the season as year-end No. 1 and winning four tournaments and having been unbeaten for a while, of course, whatever I do here, that’s amazing,” Djokovic said. “But I do still look for more than that. Having had plenty of success in the past is a huge incentive, but also it can be a burden, as you always expect nothing less from yourself. I’ve had plenty of success in London. I feel good about myself, but it’s still a long way to get my hands on the trophy.”
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Despite being 33, Novak Djokovic is still in great physical shape. The Serb sees himself fighting for Grand Slams for at least a couple of more years, and does not want to set any timeline on his retirement.

“I don’t think about age as an issue for me, maybe that I have a year or two or three left in me to fight for more Slams. Sure, I have to be a bit more strategic from next season with creating my calendar, which tournaments I want to prioritise and where I want to peak," Novak Djokovic said.
"But as long as the desire is there, I’m healthy and I have the support of my family, I’ll keep on playing. I don’t see it as an obligation, it’s not a financial issue or anything like that, I just still enjoy it and want to compete at the highest level. As long as I feel like that, I’ll be here a long time. I don’t want to put an expiry date on me yet," the Serb added.

Djokovic will open his campaign at the Nitto ATP Finals on Monday against Argentina's Diego Schwartzman.

Published 13 Nov 2020, 18:39 IST
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