‘Novak Djokovic will lose motivation without Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer competition’

Ewan West
Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer
Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer at the Laver Cup

Renowned tennis coach Gunter Bresnik believes Novak Djokovic will lose motivation without “constant competition” with his great rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

The Austrian, a long-time former coach of Dominic Thiem, also argued Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Andy Murray were better than Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz at their peaks.

World No 1 Alcaraz edged seven-time champion Djokovic in an epic five-set Wimbledon final last week to claim his second Grand Slam title.

Djokovic won a record 23rd men’s major crown by downing Casper Ruud to secure his third French Open title last month.

Nadal earned his 22nd and most recent Grand Slam triumph at Roland Garros last year and has largely been hampered by injuries since. The Spaniard has not competed since the Australian Open in January due to a hip injury.

Federer, meanwhile, retired last year following the Laver Cup in September. The Swiss won his 20th and final major at the 2018 Australian Open.

Bresnik, who currently coaches Gael Monfils, suggested that Djokovic’s lack of competition with his two biggest rivals could be affecting him following his Wimbledon final loss.

“I have the theory that the rivalries with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray drove him to top performances – of course that also applies to the others. Not only in the match, but also in the time in between, during training or preparing for a match,” Bresnik told Kleine Zeitung.

“And this rivalry does not exist with Alcaraz. I have always said that Djokovic will lose motivation once there is no more constant competition with Nadal and Federer and he has won 23 Grand Slam titles.

“Alcaraz, on the other hand, played freely and finds it easier against the older ones, because they are on the decline. The branches are high, but descending.”

Bresnik was also asked if Nadal could challenge Alcaraz if he returns, and claimed the ‘Big Four’ all performed at a higher level than the 20-year-old star is currently playing at.

“I’m still convinced that Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, and maybe Murray – played better at their best than Alcaraz is doing today. So yes, if Nadal should reach that level again, [he can challenge Alcaraz],” said Bresnik.

The Austrian did, though, laud Alcaraz’s game and athleticism, as well as the role of his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero.

“He can hit every single shot and is already a complete player, but above all he is an incredible athlete. I always tell what Gael Monfils told me,” continued Bresnik.

“After a game against him, he said that Alcaraz’s shots were fast and powerful, but that wasn’t the big problem for him as an opponent. But that he was shocked when he saw how fast Alcaraz was.

“And Monfils should know, he’s one of the fastest on the tour himself. In addition, Alcaraz is serious – and yet playful. That sounds contradictory, but it isn’t. And he has one of the best coaches in Juan Carlos Ferrero, who has a lot of experience and leaves Alcaraz no room for stupidity.

“Alexander Zverev also once trained under Ferrero, but after a short time he gave up because the circumstances were too militant for him. Ferrero may be too strict at times, but success proves him right.”

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