20170413

TENNIS

Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray combined won 45 of the 52 Grand Slam events between 2004 and 2016 (total 13 years). "It was always going to be hard to get rid of all 4 guys at the same time, let's just be honest," Roger Federer replied when he was asked by the press about the possibility of a "changing of the guard" in men's tennis at the 2014 Wimbledon championships.

Roger Federer (2009), Rafael Nadal (2010) and Novak Djokovic (2016) were 3 of only 8 male tennis players in history to win all 4 major titles. The others were Fred Perry (1935), Don Budge (1938), Rod Laver (1962), Roy Emerson (1964) and Andre Agassi (1999). Roger Rasheed told the press at the 2016 Australian Open, "To win a major you need to be obsessed with both the game and the process of becoming the very best.

"My opinion is that there is a big group of younger, very talented players on the men's tour that are frankly comfortable. But they are not going to the lengths required to become the best they can be, which will allow them to challenge for a major. There could be more legitimate contenders if some of this group lived each day to become the best player they can. Who trains now like Novak, Andy, (David) Ferrer, Rafa did on their way up? Not many, I will tell you."

Novak Djokovic said mental strength was key to winning, "It’s mental in the end of the day. You have to be able to be in the top of your game, mentally fresh and motivated, calm and composed." After Novak won 4 major championships in a row in 2016 and amassing 16,950 points in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) rankings which at the time, almost double the amount of closest challenger Andy Murray (8,915 points) - both born a week apart of each other in 1987 – Novak told the press at the 2016 U.S. Open, "I am mentally and emotionally exhausted since Roland Garros."

When he was 6 years old (back in 1993), Novak Djokovic was said told his parents he was determined to become the No. 1 male tennis player in the world, which he did in 2011 at 24 years of age. Former mentor, the late Jelena Gencic believed Novak Djokovic had "the biggest talent I have seen since Monica (Seles)" after watching him played in 1992.

Nick Bollettieri had described Novak Djokovic as "perhaps the best put-together player that I've seen in over 60 years." Andre Agassi noted, "When he's on defense, he can actually win the point with one shot; that's an evolution of the game." Tim Mayotte added, "I think his defense is just astonishing. To be able to take points that feel like they're yours, stay in the match, and turn them around — that would just drive me loco."

Speaking to Peter Aspden in October 2015, Novak explained his 'mental edge', "The first thing is to make sure you are in the moment. That is much easier to say than to do. You have to exclude all distractions and focus only on what you are about to do. In order to get to that state of concentration, you need to have a lot of experience, and a lot of mental strength.

"You are not born with that. It is something you have to build by yourself. I believe that half of any victory in a tennis match is in place before you step on to the court. If you don't have that self-belief, then fear takes over. And then it will get too much for you to handle. It’s a fine line. The energy of those moments is so high: how are you going to use it? Are you going to let it consume you, or are you going to accept its presence and say, 'OK, let's work together.'"

After winning his 7th grand slam title against Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2014, Novak Djokovic told the press, "I overcame a lot of challenges, in my life and tennis career in the last 2 years and that's why I had tears of joy. That's why it was very emotional for me to rewind the memories of what we have been through in the last 3 years and what we’ve been through as a team.

"There are some private things I went through, that I won’t talk about now, but it wasn’t easy. Everyone has issues so you have to understand how to deal with them, grow as a person, strengthen your character and manage to win grand slams. You can't separate yourself as a person and professional tennis player. It's the same person who walks on the court, so if your mind is not clear you won't be able to compete on a high level."

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