The 36-year-old says he has to reinvent himself every year to keep the sports' young guns at bay. By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday September 14, 2023
How does Novak Djokovic keep winning major titles well beyond the age of 30 – and now even 35?
You have to reinvent yourself, says the Grand Slam juggernaut.
“One of the biggest lessons I have learned probably mentally throughout my career is that even if you find a formula that works, it's not a guarantee, and actually most likely it's not going to work the next year,” Djokovic said on Sunday in New York, after capturing his historic 24th major singles title.
“You need to reinvent yourself, because everyone else does. As a 36-year-old competing with 20-year-olds I probably have to do it more than I have ever done it in order to keep my body in shape, in order to be able to recover so that I can perform on the highest level consistently.”
Novak Djokovic's pre-final routine at US Open
A robot 🤖
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) September 13, 2023
Djokovic, who now owns 96 titles and 1,076 wins on the ATP Tour, says the key to keeping up the energy and intensity that it takes to continue beating back the tour’s next generation of stars is balance.
On the physical, spiritual and mental level, the Serbian legend is all about channeling his desire while maintaining his passion and love of the sport.
“Mentally and emotionally to still keep the right balance between motivation so that I'm actually inspired and motivated to play the best tennis and to compete with these guys,” Djokovic says, adding: “and to actually not let go in the moments when I maybe can, and at the same time keep the playfulness and passion for the sport.”
From playful to perfect – that’s the Djokovic way.
Djokovic says he takes inspiration from other sporting legends who have also found ways to excel way beyond what was previously thought to be their peak age.
“Maybe you can call me a perfectionist,” he said. “I know I'm not the only one. I know there are a lot of great champions in different sports that thrive on this kind of approach to perfect themselves, their approach, their game, their performance, their recovery, every single day. On and on. That's why LeBron James still keeps going at his age, or Tom Brady, you know, greats like that, that are inspiring.
“That's basically it. You know, it's a constant, evolving process of me trying to implement certain things that will give me an edge over the young guns.”