Former World No. 1 Novak Djokovic (Player Bio) may have lost the top spot in the ATP rankings, but he is not showing any signs of slowing down as he topped Rafael Nadal in the China Open and followed it up with a successful title defence in Shanghai to extend his undefeated streak in Asia. Some may have believed that the Spaniard usurping his title may signal a passing of the guard in the pecking order, yet Djokovic appears to be more motivated than ever to regain his place at the pinnacle of the sport.
If you ask the Serb, he would say tell you that self-belief and absolute determination are essential to his success.
“To win a Grand Slam is the pinnacle of this sport, as well as being No. 1 of the world. Not many players are able to do that,” said Djokovic “If you kind of keep on trying for many years, you start doubting yourself if you really can do it. All the people around you keep on telling you that you can. In my case, in my personal experience, when I won in 2008 my first Grand Slam (at the Australian Open), two years after that I wasn’t managing to win [another major] title. People started doubting my abilities [to win] another Grand Slam title. I did have also my own dilemmas.
“In the end I figured out it’s a matter of obviously a lot of things together, but mostly self-belief. Because it’s a mental game and you need to be mentally tough and be ready to commit and sacrifice many things in life to achieve that.”
With his win over Del Potro (Player Bio) in the finals yesterday, Djokovic secured his 20th consecutive victory on Chinese soil, having won the Beijing-Shanghai double in 2012 as well. Amongst those wins are epic encounters with Andy Murray in last year’s final and yesterday’s final against the Argentine.
“I just feel nice being here in China. There’s some good, positive energy around these tournaments. They’re organized on such a high level, both Beijing and Shanghai. There’s a lot of supporters, a lot of young people who come out every day with Serbian flags. They are not just for myself, but supporting Nadal and all the other players. [They are] really passionate.
Not only does the 6-time Grand Slam champion enjoy performing in China, he also understands its strategic importance on the tour. The two tournaments hold a combined 1500 ATP points and those could be vital heading into the tour final the following month. In Djokovic’s case, it is an opportunity to get one step closer to regaining his No.1 ranking.
“For me, that’s very encouraging. It’s very positive because most of the people would think after the fourth Grand Slam of the year is over, that somehow the season is finished in the minds of maybe people who are not following consistently the tennis season. For me it’s definitely not over. Of course, these two tournaments are one of my favourites and that’s why I’m more successful.”