Renowned coach identifies toughest Novak Djokovic opponent in interesting claim

Novak Djokovic close-up at tennis media day

Tennis coaching legend Rick Macci has claimed that world No 1 Novak Djokovic knows the “toughest match” for him currently is “always the guy in the mirror.”

The American, a former coach of tennis legend Serena Williams, asserted that Djokovic is “all about the competition” and feels his “mind control is amazing.”

Djokovic concluded a sensational season on the main ATP Tour by claiming a record seventh title at the ATP Finals to surpass his great rival Roger Federer last week.

The 36-year-old downed world No 4 Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-3 in the final in Turin, having crushed his other young rival – world No 2 Carlos Alcaraz – 6-3, 6-2 in the semi-finals.

The Serbian has secured seven titles in 2023, which is the most he has claimed since winning the same total in 2016. Six of his triumphs came at ‘big tournaments’ – Grand Slams, the ATP Finals and Masters 1000 events.

Djokovic won a record-extending 24th men’s Grand Slam singles title with his victory over Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final in September.

READ MORE: Ana Ivanovic recalls Rafael Nadal conversation that illustrates Novak Djokovic longevity

Speaking on an episode of the Match Point Canada podcast, Macci explained what provides Djokovic with motivation and argued he is his own biggest opponent at this stage.

“He doesn’t mind if people are against him. He sort of clicks things in his mind and his mind control is amazing. He is all about the competition,” said the 68-year-old.

“Let me think about it, 24 Grand Slams, seven ATP Finals. We could go on and on. The numbers and the money is mind-boggling to keep the motivation up. What’s the motivation? Simple: I love to compete and that should be the goal of any coach, to become the best competitor you can be.

“When you have that success to still wanna go out there and knock you out, it’s not about anything other than what he expects from himself. He knows his toughest match right now is always the guy in the mirror. It’s always himself.”

Macci has worked with five players who achieved the world No 1 ranking in their careers: Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Jennifer Capriati and Andy Roddick. The 68-year-old also coached major champions Mary Pierce, Anastasia Myskina and Sofia Kenin.

Djokovic will finish his 2023 campaign at the Davis Cup Final 8 knockout stage in Malaga, which is being played from November 21-26 this week. Serbia will face Great Britain in the quarter-finals on November 23.

The 36-year-old is looking to help win a second Davis Cup title for Serbia, having led his nation to their only triumph in the history of the team competition in 2010.

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