Novak Djokovic ‘set to be handed key Ryder Cup role’ as he flies into Rome

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

Novak Djokovic has been confirmed as a star performer at the pre-Ryder Cup golf event in Rome – and now there are rumours he could have an even more significant role with Team Europe.

The biggest team event in golf takes place this weekend, as Europe take on a star-studded USA team at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Italy.

Djokovic is one of the big names taking part in a celebrity golf event on Wednesday and he has arrived in the Italian captial before showing the world his sporting skills in a different discipline.

Set to take place on the same course as the main event, the All-Star match will also feature former Champions League winners Gareth Bale and Andriy Shevchenko and Ferrari’s Formula One driver Carlos Sainz. Golf legends Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin are also involved in the All-Star match.

Djokovic will be part of ‘Team Monty’, led by former European Ryder Cup captain Montgomerie, and he will play with G4D Tour player Kipp Popert.

“I can’t wait to tee it up in Rome and experience the incredible atmosphere of a Ryder Cup, which has become legendary,” Djokovic said.

“The course looks like a fantastic test of golf and my playing partner Kipp, a seasoned pro, has won a lot on the G4D Tour recently so I’m confident we can get a point for the team.”

Now it seems Djokovic will be doing more than trying to play golf on the Ryder Cup course as there is an expectation he will also have a big role to play for European captain Luke Donald.

There has been a long-standing tradition of sporting legends giving motivational speeches to the European team ahead of the Ryder Cup, with former Manchester United captain Sir Alex Ferguson among those who have done so down the years.

Now Djokovic is believed to be in line to address a star-studded European team before they go into battle against the USA team on Friday.

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Montgomerie and his fellow Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley are expected to offer words of inspiration to the European team and there is increased speculation that Djokovic will also be called up to speak to players like Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm.

“I don’t think you necessarily need large voices within the team room,” said European captain Donald.

“You just need pretty good clarity on why you’re here, what the reason is and how you’re going to accomplish your goal.

“You know, these guys are very motivated, and then they seem very unified. There are certain things we’ll be doing throughout this week just to make sure that we are working on being a team.”

Djokovic has been hailed as the greatest athlete in the world since his US Open win earlier this month took his major title haul to 24, moving him two ahead of his great rival Rafael Nadal in the all-time list.

He has not always got the acclaim his achievements on the court have merited, but it seems the 36-year-old is now being saluted as one of the greats of this or any other era of sport.

Djokovic is a fine public speaker and his command of different languages would make him a compelling motivational speaker for the European Ryder Cup team.

He would also offer unique insight into the challenges of dealing with pressure in an individual sport and while tennis and golf are very different disciplines, they have some similarities.

It would also cement Djokovic’s reputation as one of the great winners, with his presence in Rome adding to the anticipation ahead of the start of one of the great events in sport