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Starstruck: How Federer and Nadal have made Novak Djokovic a great player —Vikram Sathaye

Behind Novak Djokovic being the player he is today lie the impact of two other greats of the game - Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal who pushed Djoker towards greatness.

Big Three tennis djokovic nadal federer

The Big Three - Novak Djokovic (left), Rafa Nadal (middle) and Roger Federer 


Vikram Sathaye

Published: 25 Jan 2022 12:46 PM GMT

"I don't think any one of us will retire. Now that we are all tied at 20 each. The player I am today is because of Rafa and Roger", said Novak Djokovic in his post-match presentation on the lush green Centre Court of SW19 after winning his 6th Wimbledon title.

It wasn't just a 6th grass-court Grand Slam win for Novak Djokovic on that day - because he stepped closer to ending the GOAT debate. Only an Italian - Matteo Berrettini stood in between him and creating this piece of record-equalling history.

In a nail-biting four-set affair, Djokovic had his way, like he usually does, dominating mentally to win 6–7(4–7), 6–4, 6–4, 6–3 and absolve the difference in Slams he had with the other two of the Big Three trio.

Novak has always talked about the fact that it's Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal that made him a great player - the mental giant that he is today, the fitness machine he is - a lot of it is because of Roger and Rafa pushing him to the extremes to bring out the best in himself on the court, provoking his entire lifestyle to change in the pursuit of history and excellence.

Back in the day - Novak Djokovic with Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer

In his early days, Djokovic was not a threat, he would get beaten by them very often and that's when he learned to understand their game, overcome his emotions and compete harder - fight tooth and nail, as they say.

I think he used both of them as a metric to improve, however, the most important thing he says is that he made sure while doing this he was also focusing on becoming the best version of Novak Djokovic by adopting mental training techniques, a plant-based diet and taking steps that would suit his body and game.

Whether eating the Wimbledon grass after winning was part of that we don't know though. However, this sort of thinking is a profound learning for leaders I feel. It's okay to benchmark yourself with competition but not at the cost of your own process.

Here is some fun trivia too -

Novak Djokovic after winning Wimbledon eats a little bit of the grass from the Centre Court.

He says he does this because when he won for the first time which was a dream come true, he didn't know what to do and so ate the grass which became a tradition, and when in Wimbledon, you need to stick to it, no?

Mike Tyson had once eaten Holyfield's ear in a boxing bout. Thank god he didn't make it a tradition.

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