Many tennis players fear the expectations and burdens that come with being in the top echelons of the game. But World No. 1 Novak Djokovic claims he is used to all those pressures, adding that he's even motivated by them.
Djokovic was speaking at a press conference in Serbia before heading to Vienna to play at the ATP Erste Bank Open next week. He talked at length about how he deals with pressure now, as opposed to the beginning stages of his career.
"Pressure is an integral part of my life and of every professional athlete. We have to accept that we will have large amounts of pressure and the question is whether you will use it as fuel (to motivate yourself) or against yourself," Novak Djokovic said.
"It doesn’t burden me as much as it did at the beginning of my career. I can finish everything tomorrow and be satisfied with what I did, but I still enjoy the competition and it makes me happy to hold the racket in my hands. While that is the case, I will continue to play. But when I'm on a professional tour, I have to have ambitions. It is not pressure, but only motivation," he added.
Novak Djokovic has regularly been making the headlines in recent weeks, both for his on-court performances and for his role in the Professional Tennis Players Association. But while some claim the break-away association is preventing him from concentrating fully on his tennis, Djokovic himself considers his role in the PTPA as a responsibility.
The Serb believes he can help give a voice to the opinions of the lower-ranked players by working closely with the association.
"I don’t think I’m burdened by the conversation around the Association," Novak Djokovic said. "Of course I sometimes sway too, but no one is perfect. We gain new knowledge every day and we use it to be the best version of ourselves.
"Association is a calling, a kind of responsibility and obligation as a tennis player who is in this position," he added. "I help those who do not have that voice, power. I'm not alone in that. Vasek is here, a lot of top tennis players are there, they join from week to week. I feel that it is a kind of legacy and obligation, through pleasure. I have no benefit from it in a material sense. I try to keep the things I do in line with some values.
Organizing more junior and professional tournaments in Serbia is extremely important: Novak Djokovic
One of the other important topics that Novak Djokovic touched upon during his press conference was the effort needed to develop the sport in Serbia.
This is an extremely important topic for all of us who are in the tennis system of Serbia, I include myself as an individual and as a person who runs a tennis club here," he said. "I try to be available to young tennis players and the Federation, which is the main one responsible for the development of tennis here. Janko Tipsarevic has an academy that works great, he decided to help young tennis players by investing time and knowledge."
Novak Djokovic added that more efforts are required to organize junior and professional tournaments in Serbia, so as to help the local players get recognized in the sport.
"I hope that we will be able to organize the return of the professional tournament," Djokovic said. "The Adria Tour is now a notorious event because it ended the way it ended, but we have shown that we can organize a top professional tournament. I will personally work on it, but we should also work on futures, challengers, junior tournaments, that is crucial and necessary. Everyone from Serbian tennis has to travel around the world and play tournaments. We used to have tournaments like that, now it's quiet, but we need to consolidate and work on it. That is one of the priorities."Published 22 Oct 2020, 21:32 IST