Novak Djokovic reveals what is ‘hurting’ him ‘more and more’ as he opens up on his hunger

Ewan West
Novak Djokovic in his loss to Jannik Sinner
Novak Djokovic looks on in his defeat to Jannik Sinner at the Australian Open

Novak Djokovic expressed how much he misses his children when spending time away from them as he spoke about his motivation in a conversation with Nick Kyrgios. 

The world No 1 revealed the “little Novak” inside him is “still so hungry for more”, but declared it is hurting him “more and more” to leave his children as he gets older.

The tennis legend and his wife Jelena are parents to a nine-year-old son, Stefan, and a six-year-old daughter, Tara.

During a difficult 2024 campaign to date, Djokovic has lost five of the 17 matches he has played and not reached a final at the four ATP tournaments he has competed in.

The legendary Serbian’s performances have led to some questions over his desire to remain at the very top after a brilliant 2023 season.

Last year, Djokovic won seven titles — including three of the four Grand Slams — and posted a sublime 56-7 (88.9%) record.

The 24-time Grand Slam champion, who will turn 37 later this month, was beaten 6-2, 6-3 by Alejandro Tabilo in the third round of the 2024 Italian Open on Sunday. He will next feature at the French Open, where he is the defending champion.

READ MORE: Is Novak Djokovic undercooked ahead of French Open? A look at his recent clay record ahead of Roland Garros

In a discussion with fellow tennis star Kyrgios on the Good Trouble with Nick Kyrgios podcast, Djokovic explained why he is conflicted over his hunger to keep going.

“The little Novak, the four-year-old Novak, who started playing tennis in Kopaonik in Serbia, is still inside and still in love with the sport and is still so hungry for more,” Djokovic told Kyrgios in the recently-released interview — which was conducted during the Australian Open in January.

“But at the same time, there’s probably this more mature Novak, father and a husband, that is, ‘Come on, man. There are other things in life as well’.

“I really miss my children as we speak now. They are back in Europe, and I haven’t seen them for weeks. If I do well here, I will not see them for another two, three weeks, who knows? And that’s hurting me more and more, leaving them.”

Following his exit in Rome, the 36-year-old admitted he has had “a different feeling” this year compared to last season.

“If I am playing poorly – I am far from the desired form. We’ll see how things go, Grand Slams are a bit different though, I love playing them, I’m extra motivated there. I hope everything will be fine with my head,” he told Serbian media.

“This year, I have a different feeling, the general feeling related to the competitions. I’m trying to get the most out of myself, but I haven’t succeeded so far. Now comes the most important block of the year, I’m getting ready for it.”

READ MORE: Novak Djokovic’s longest trophyless start to a season: Will he break his own record?