Novak Djokovic has declared that his “aura” grows the more he wins on the biggest stage and feels this might give him an edge over his rivals.
The 36-year-old asserted that he wants his young competitors to feel the pressure that comes from him fighting to prevent them from overthrowing him and winning big titles.
Djokovic thinks he played his two best matches of his incredible season against Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner in the knockout stage of the 2023 ATP Finals.
The Serbian dismantled world No 2 Alcaraz 6-3, 6-2 in the semi-finals of the year-end championships, before avenging a three-set round-robin loss to Jannik Sinner with a convincing 6-3, 6-3 final triumph.
The world No 1’s victory over world No 4 Sinner on Sunday saw him overtake his great rival Roger Federer by claiming a record seventh ATP Finals title.
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Speaking in his press conference after his sublime performance against Sinner, Djokovic explained holding off the rising ATP stars gives him extra motivation.
“If you understood the situation this way, I’m glad. Hopefully they feel the same. Yeah, I mean, I want them to feel that kind of pressure. When they play me, I want them to feel that it’s going to require the best tennis from them in order to win against me,” he said.
“That’s what I want my opponents to feel, no doubt, because that helps mentally coming into the match. I think the more I win on the biggest stage, the more this kind of aura grows, and I’m glad for it, no doubt. Of course, that’s not going to win you the match, but it might give you the little percentage, the little edge.”
The 24-time Grand Slam champion also explained his mentality shifted for the semi-finals and final in Turin after clinching the year-end No 1 ranking had affected him mentally in the group stage.
“Yes, I did. I think the match against Alcaraz last night and the one tonight, probably two best matches under the circumstances that I’ve played this season against two players that are in fantastic form,” said the Serbian.
“I mean, obviously the quality of Alcaraz and Sinner we all know. Playing Sinner tonight in front of his home crowd, and the way I finished the tournament and finished the season, is amazing. I’m very, very proud of the performance.
“Obviously what Goran was referring to is probably after I clinched the year No 1 with the first win over Rune, I was not mentally present I think fully in the tournament. After that I was like, yeah, kind of half in, half out feeling. That reflected on my level of tennis and my performance and the way I felt on the court.
“Obviously thanks to Sinner for allowing me to be in the semi-finals when I was there. I thought now, ‘okay, I’m going to try and step it up.’ And I did. I played two really high-level matches. I started very aggressively tonight against Jannik, which was the different to the group stage match we had against each other.
“I think that match helped me prepare myself better for the atmosphere, the crowd. Obviously I analysed the match and I looked what I could have done better. I think I’ve done it very well for the entire match.”
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