Novak Djokovic’s former coach predicts how long the Serbian can remain at the top level
Nikola Pilic believes his former pupil Novak Djokovic can continue to compete at the top level in tennis and remain among the world’s top five players for two more years.
The former French Open finalist also asserted that Djokovic chasing Jimmy Connors’ record for the most ATP titles is “not important” because the level of tennis is incomparable.
Djokovic, who turned 36 in May, had one of the finest seasons of his remarkable career this year as he won seven titles and posted a 56-7 (88.9%) record.
The Serbian won three of the four Grand Slam tournaments to take his Major tally to a men’s record of 24, while he also claimed a record seventh ATP Finals crown.
Djokovic has now won 12 Majors in his 30s and has a 12-3 record in Grand Slam finals since turning 30. Only Ken Rosewall and Roger Federer have won a Grand Slam title at an older age than Djokovic managed at Flushing Meadows.
The world No 1’s victory at the ATP Finals in Turin earlier this month was his 98th ATP singles title, with Connors having won the most with 109.
In an interview with Kurir, Pilic, who trained a young Djokovic at his tennis academy in Munich, stressed he does not refard the Connors milestone as significant.
“That record is not that important to me, it’s not something fun for me. I know Connors and beat him once in Philly, but he’s won 90% of his titles in the 250 series in America,” the Croatian declared.
“The level of tennis then and today is not at all comparable. Tennis is much different, times have changed, but what speaks volumes is that Novak is the best in all six categories that count, and that’s what you see, the numbers say it all.”
The six-time ATP titlist also assessed how much longer he thinks the 36-year-old great will be able to keep performing at the highest level of the sport.
“It depends on his health condition, but in my opinion, if Djokovic is not injured, he has two more years of playing at the top level. If there are no injuries, he has two more years of playing among the top five tennis players,” explained the 84-year-old.
“It doesn’t matter if he’s second or fourth, it’s important that he’s there. Knowing him and his professionalism and desire, it is very likely that there will be more than two, but I repeat, only Novak can know and only he can decide how long he will play.”
Djokovic’s 2023 campaign ended on a painful note as Serbia fell to Italy in the semi-finals at the 2023 Davis Cup Finals last week. The world No 1 fell in three sets to Jannik Sinner after having three match points, before he and Miomir Kecmanovic lost the decisive doubles tie to Sinner and Lorenzo Sonego.
The Serbian helped his nation win the only Davis Cup title in their history in 2010.
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