NY Sports Day
Joe McDonald

McDonald: Novak Djokovic Is Getting The Four Year Itch

Michael O'Kane/NYSD

It looks like an every four year occurrence for Novak Djokovic.

He comes into this Open as the best player in the world, with wins in both the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

Now he is looking repeat what he did in 2011 and 2015 and win three of the four Grand Slams in a season.

You have to forgive him if he doesn’t win the French, that’s Rafael Nadal’s domain, much like Presidential Elections, the Olympics and the World Cup, Djokovic’s three of four may become the norm.

“Obviously at this stage of my career and my life, Grand Slam — it’s mostly about Grand Slams, really,” he said. “How can I, you know, set my shape and form to be at my best to reach the peak of my tennis performance and my abilities on the Grand Slam. They matter the most in the history of our sport. And certainly motivate me the most.”

So far, so good after Day 1, when he dispatched Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 6-4 6-1 6-1. Although an easy score, a player Djokovic never played before, the No. 1 seed sees room for improvement.

“I have lots of respect for anybody that I play against, and today I played against a player that I never faced before,” Djokovic said. “That doesn’t happen too often.

“It was a solid performance. I think I can still play better, but it’s kind of expected for the first match and then, you know, I’m hoping that I can build from here.”

Although older and wiser, Djokovic still says he the same player that came on the scene 13 years ago and goes about his business the same way for the past decade. That includes using the advanced analytics and video that has become the norm in sports.

A smart player, he seems to relish having the best information and numbers.

“Technology is advancing, is improving,” he said. “You know, I have people, analysts in my team that are responsible for providing data and information and video and data analysis on every next opponent that I play against. I have to do my homework. I think it’s something that is so logical and so normal. You know, it’s part of, in a way, my job as well to get myself ready for what’s coming up. “

Especially here in Flushing Meadows, where members of the Big 3 don’t always come out on top. He won the Open three times (shooting for four) but lost it six times in the last 12 Opens.

“I would point out is this Grand Slam is the last Grand Slam of the year,” he said. “So some players maybe might have been more exhausted, less freshness in the legs, so to say, than is the case, for example, in Australia is the beginning of the season.

“Because it’s a long season, it’s a lot of surfaces that you have to change and it takes a toll on your body. So maybe that’s the case why, you know, this tournament has provided some different names from the big 3, big 4 that have won the major title. “

He hopes that this doesn’t hold true this season and the Djokovic three of four, comes true.

It’s been four years.


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