Novak Djokovic asked to compare his current form to his best year and he serves up a surprise answer

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic close-up at tennis media day
Novak Djokovic of Serbia looks on during a tennis media day

Novak Djokovic remains at the peak of his powers at the age of 36 and he has suggested the form he is showing now is the best of his career.

Djokovic’s ATP Finals win on Sunday rubber-stamped him as the year-end world number one for a record eighth time and took him to 400 total weeks at the top of the rankings.

His latest ATP Finals triumph was the seventh of his career, moving him one clear of Roger Federer in the all-time list for the end-of-season event.

This was also the year when he moved his Grand Slam tally to 24, two ahead of his great rival Rafael Nadal, after he won the Australian Open, French Open and US Open titles.

Djokovic’s dominant year drew comparisons with his iconic 2013 season, when he also won three major titles and established a stranglehold at the top of the game.

Yet when asked whether 2023 was his best year yet, Djokovic rejected the idea that his form a decade ago was the best of his career.

“10 years ago was 2013, so I would say Novak of today (is superior),” he said.

“2015 was one of the best years, probably the best year I had with 19 finals in a row in all the tournaments, three out of four slams. I had quite a great 18 months in 2015 and half of 2016.

“Again, the moments in time are different for me. I don’t try to play as much as I did play 10 years ago. I have to pick and choose the right tournaments and right periods of the year where I can perform my best.

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“It’s tough to compare. But someone did ask me the same question not a while ago. The question was actually phrased like, who would win in the matchup?

“I said it would be an easy job for a 36-year-old, yeah (laughing). Joking, of course. I don’t know what the score would be. I would give my young self a hard time, that’s for sure.”

Djokovic also suggested he was ready to carry on winning for the foreseeable future, after confirming he was a few steps ahead of his young rivals.

“I have always the highest ambitions and goals,” he added. “That’s not going to be different for the next year, that’s for sure.

“The drive that I have is still there. My body has been serving me well, listening to me well. I have a great team of people around me. Motivation, especially for the biggest tournaments in sport, is still present.

“It still inspires me to keep going. In the end of the day, people see you performing in the big tournaments, but they don’t see all the weeks & months of dedication day-to-day, week-to-week work, trying to build your form so that you can peak where you want to peak.

“For me, obviously those are Grand Slams, World Tour Finals and next year hopefully also Olympic Games. The mindset is the same.

“I’ll keep going. I don’t know whether I’m going to have as good of a year next year, but I’m going to keep this kind of freshness of mind and motivation to do that.”

There appears to be no stopping Novak Djokovic and if the evidence of the last 12 months is a gauge of what is to come, he has to be a strong contender to win all four major titles and the Olympic gold medal next year.