AC Milan’s plan to ‘sign’ Novak Djokovic for specific role is revealed

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic on the secrets of his mental approach
Novak Djokovic revealed his mentality secrets at an ASICS event (Albin Durand)

Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic is known for his courage on a tennis court and that quality appears to have been the driving force behind Italian football giants AC Milan showing an interest in ‘signing’ the world’s No 1 tennis player.

Djokovic has developed a reputation for outlasting his rivals physically in long matches, with part of his success down to winning mental battles with his opponents.

Now it has emerged that Serie A giants AC Milan have considered an audacious plan to bring Djokovic into the AC Milan set-up and provide mental and psychological support for their footballers.

Djokovic is a big football fan and a close friend of former AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and he has attended several AC Milan games at their San Siro home.

The notion that the world No 1 would have time in his diary to become part of the AC Milan set-up may be fanciful for now, but it is one of many areas the 24-time Grand Slam champion could look to move into when his tennis career comes to an end.

While AC Milan owner Gerry Cardinale did not hold official talks with Djokovic over a potential role in recent weeks, the idea that he could be a part of the club’s future may be discussed when he has time to devote to alternative roles when his tennis career reaches a conclusion.

Tennis365 was present at an intimate interview hosted by ASICS at Wimbledon with Djokovic, as he explained how he controls his emotions in a conversation with former world No 2 Alex Corretja.

“Mental wellness is an area people are paying more attention to and deservedly so,” began Djokovic.

“In an individual sport like this, you are on the court yourself and there is no one to help you when things go south. Of course, you have a team supporting you in the stands, but you have to work it out for yourself.

“I believe half of the mental work you need to put in is done before you even set foot on the court. If you fail to prepare, it is going to be a much more difficult mountain to climb and succeed on the court.

“You need to have a long-term and short-term strategy to find a way to win in the end and you understand that process more when you play for a long time.

“You need to be physically, mentally and emotionally stable to have a chance and I have to understand my body is responding differently than it was 10 years ago.

“This holistic approach is vital for all parts of your life. You need the right people around you, to eat well and if you try to suppress emotions, it will almost certainly surface on the court for me.”

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Djokovic has often been criticised for screaming abuse at members of his team who sit in his box during matches, but he suggests that is a result of his failure to confront his inner demons.

“When I scream at members of my team during a match, that is because I am not dealing with the situation well and the monster that is coming behind you is getting bigger,” he continued.

“You have to deal with your opponent, the crowd and so many other things, so you have to deal with your demons.

“It is not possible to stay in the present all the time. Our mind wanders to past experiences and takes you in different directions, so you have to contend with that. On a tennis court, it’s even more intense. And if someone tells you not to think about something negative, you will inevitably think about it.

“If you lose your focus, things can start to go wrong quickly, but you have to accept it. If you do that, you can recover quickly and come back. Conscious breathing is the most important way to move on from a day moment.”

Djokovic also claimed reflecting on past disappointments is counter-productive during a match, as he tries to steer his mind away from negativity.

“If there is something that makes you feel comfortable and good in life, we always want more of that,” he added.

“As a sportsman, you sometimes have to play a game with your brain at times and convince it that things are okay.

“We are all human beings, we all make mistakes. We will all make a million more mistakes until the last day of our lives and you cannot look back and think too much about a mistake that doesn’t have too much of an impact.

“Instead, you have to count your blessings. I’m so privileged, so honoured to be a successful tennis player and play the sport I fell in love with when I was four-years-old.