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Novak Djokovic is in a league of his own, especially mentally: Patrik Kuhnen

Novak Djokovic with the 2021 Australian Open Men
Novak Djokovic with the 2021 Australian Open Men's Trophy
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 25 Feb 2021
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Former German tennis player Patrik Kuhnen recently claimed that World No. 1 Novak Djokovic cannot be compared to any player in the world when it comes to mental toughness. Kuhnen's comments came in the wake of Djokovic's 18th Grand Slam singles title on Sunday, which included a straight sets demolition of Daniil Medvedev in the final.

In a column for Sky Sports, Kuhnen opined that Novak Djokovic's latest win underscores his superiority and also makes him the favorite at Wimbledon and the US Open later this year.

"The top favorite for the French Open is, as always, Rafael Nadal," Kuhnen said. "The top favorite for Wimbledon and the US Open must currently be Novak Djokovic."

The German also claimed that given the way things are going, it looks likely that Novak Djokovic will overtake rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the race for most Majors.

"There is much to suggest that the Serb will eventually overtake Federer and Nadal and become the champion of records," Kuhnen went on. "The Australian Open once again made it clear to me: Djokovic is in his own league, especially mentally."

Kuhnen went on to explain how Novak Djokovic's impeccable return-of-serve and court awareness at important junctures of a match take his opponents out of their comfort zone.

"The 'Djoker' gets even more in the heads of his opponents," Kuhnen said. "Due to his ability to seal off the court, to return so brilliantly and to play flawlessly in the decisive moments, the pressure increases on the opponent to try something special."

Men's tennis seems to be a little further away from a changing of the guard - Kuhnen after Novak Djokovic's latest Grand Slam win

Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev during the presentation ceremony at the 2021 Australian Open
Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev during the presentation ceremony at the 2021 Australian Open

Many had expected the younger players, especially the likes of Daniil Medevdev, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev, to challenge the Big 3 for the big titles in 2021. But Kuhnen claimed the Australian Open has shown that such a scenario is still some time away.

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"In addition to Dominic Thiem, I thought Daniil Medvedev would be able to change the guard at the Grand Slams," Kuhnen said. "But men's tennis seems to be a little further away from a changing of the guard after this Australian Open. Novak Djokovic was too impressive, too dominant in the decisive moments."
"For the young challengers, it is still a very special attraction to conquer the 'Big 3'," he added. "Against Djokovic, the hurdle seems to be particularly big, especially mentally."
Published 25 Feb 2021, 16:15 IST
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