‘There are two different Novak Djokovic’s in Grand Slam finals’, claims renowned coach
Renowned coach Patrick Mouratoglou has explained why he feels there are two different versions of Novak Djokovic that can appear in Grand Slam finals.
Mouratoglou believes Djokovic either enters major title matches with the mindset “to conquer” or “to avoid losing” and that we saw the former in last week’s US Open final.
Djokovic downed world No 3 Daniil Medvedev in straight sets in the final of the 2023 US Open last week to claim his fourth US Open title in a record 10th final at the event.
The 36-year-old crucially edged a marathon second set, during which he saved a set point, on a tiebreak en route to sealing a record-extending 24th men’s major crown.
The world No 1 won three of the four Grand Slam tournaments this year, while also narrowly losing in the Wimbledon final to Carlos Alcaraz. This is the fourth season of the great Serbian’s career where he has claimed three majors – a men’s record.
In a video posted on his Instagram account, Mouratoglou shared his theory about how Djokovic’s mentality can differ in Grand Slam finals.
“In this 2023 US Open final between Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev, two things were key in that final. The first thing was his (Djokovic’s) mindset. In finals of Grand Slams there are two different Novaks,” argued the Frenchman.
“There is the Novak that comes to conquer – and when he is like that and he plays his best tennis – he’s the best player in the world. And there’s the Djokovic who comes to the final to avoid losing. And this one is beatable – is extremely difficult to beat – but he is beatable. In that Grand Slam final [against Medvedev], he came to conquer and he did.”
Mouratoglou, who has coached Serena Williams, Simona Halep, Coco Gauff, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Holger Rune, also broke down the tactical keys to the US Open final.
“The second element that was key I think was the tactical element. When he’s playing Daniil, he knows it’s going to be a tough match because they have the same type of game,” assessed the 53-year-old.
“And the more the rally goes, the more it goes in the favour of Daniil. So he has to find a way to shorten the points, and he has to find a way when he rallies not to put himself in trouble.
“And I think in that final, it was very tactical. He did two things that he didn’t do so much in the previous matches with Daniil. First of all, he played serve-and-volley much, much more. That’s one thing. The net play, that was something that was definitely not part of his game.
“And the second element was to use the centre of the court also. Because if you move only right and left to Daniil, he barely misses. And the further on the sides he is, the more he finds angle to counter-attack you. And in that final, he was very smart to play: right, left, centre; right, left, centre – a lot.
“And when he came back to the centre, he either had a shot to go for the winner or Daniil missed. On top of the fact that he played his best tennis and that mentally he looked very confident.”
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