Zlatan Ibrahimovic recently talked about the mental attributes of Novak Djokovic, explaining how the Serb is similar to him in some respects. Ibrahimovic believes Djokovic is a "complete athlete" who, like him, has improved upon his mental prowess with experience.
Novak Djokovic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have been friends for several years. Djokovic is also a supporter of AC Milan, for whom the Swede currently plies his trade.
The 20-time Major champion has regularly heaped praise on Ibrahimovic over the years, and vice-versa. Now during an interview with his football club, Ibrahimovic pointed out that Djokovic has a typical "Balkan" mentality wherein anger drives the individual to raise their level and put in their best efforts.
The 40-year-old further claimed that getting angry makes people like him and Djokovic become "more focused".
"First of all he’s (Novak Djokovic) a Balkan head: when you explode you do well, when you get angry you do the best you can," Ibrahimovic said. "You are more focused, more careful. When Nole plays and gets angry he brings out his best, and that’s how I feel alive."
The AC Milan striker further explained he finds Novak Djokovic a lot like himself, given how they have both grown mentally over the years.
"He’s a complete athlete," Ibrahimovic added. "The head, with little experience, is not there. With experience, the mindset grows. Nole is like me."
"It is never easy to digest such a disappointment" - Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Novak Djokovic's failure to win the Calendar Slam
In a separate interview with Sportweek last week, Zlatan Ibrahimovic had opened up about Novak Djokovic's failure to win the US Open.
Djokovic fell at the final hurdle in New York, losing the summit clash to Daniil Medvedev. More importantly, he failed to complete the Calendar Slam; the Serb had won all three of the previous Slams in the year.
If Novak Djokovic had won the US Open, he would have become the first man in over 50 years to accomplish the feat. In fact, ahead of the US Open, Djokovic had even mentioned that winning the Calendar Slam would be his "biggest achievement".
But that was not to be, as the 20-time Major champion struggled to put forth his best tennis and was quickly obliterated by Medvedev.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, on his part, believes that Novak Djokovic would be greatly disappointed to have narrowly fallen short of the Calendar Slam, especially after playing lights out all year. But the Swede heaped praise on Djokovic's season, and pointed out that nobody else had come that close to winning the Calendar Slam.
"The crisis in New York? It is never easy to digest such a disappointment," Ibrahimovic said. "Nole played great and won all year. Then at the final step he missed something. It happens, it happens."
"But what Nole did remains incredible, unbelievable," he added. "And he must think so. I have not seen others do the same thing: he came close to the goal, like no one, but then it is true that the others are strong too, not just him."