Novak Djokovic reveals why he gives his coaching team such a hard time at US Open

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic in flying form at the US Open
Novak Djokovic in flying form at the US Open

Novak Djokovic admits he is tough to be around during the two weeks of a Grand Slam event – and he makes no excuse for his intense approach.

Djokovic is through to a record 47th Grand Slam semi-final after his comprehensive win against America’s Taylor Fritz, moving him one ahead of Roger Federer’s tally in the all-time list of semi-final appearances in major tournaments.

His 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 win over Fritz was a masterclass in clinical execution on the court, but the match still featured moments when Djokovic screamed at his box, which included long-time coach and former Wimbledon champion, Goran Ivanesevic.

Djokovic makes no apology for his passion on and off the court, as he offered up a glimpse into the standards he sets for himself and those around him.

“Who is not difficult,” asked Djokovic, when asked about the tensions he feels in a Grand Slam event.

“I care about this profession and I take it very seriously. I know a lot of the other players do too.

“We expect the highest levels of dedication from our team members, as they expect from us.

“Overall, we are a team and we stick together. We have had some tremendous success in the last couple of years and I am pleased with where I stand.

“Yes I can be difficult, but I don’t know a player who is playing at the highest level and everything if flowers and music.

“It has to be challenging for everyone, for the player and the coaching staff, or there is no growth.

“That’s how you push yourself to the limit. You need to understand how you can develop the game and how you can become better on and off the court.”

Djokovic also spoke about the challenge of playing an American player in the latter stages of the US Open, with another homegrown hero lying in wait in the semi-finals.

The Serbian expressed his annoyance on court when an over-exuberant fan screamed out during a point against Fritz, but Djokovic has no problem taking on a hostile crowd.

“It’s expected that people are backing the home player, there’s nothing wrong with that,” said Djokovic

“I like the atmosphere here, I’m fine with that and I thrive on that energy.

“I’ve been playing on this court for many years, played many epic matches, and I’m looking forward to another one in a few days.

“It’s a huge opportunity every time I step out on the court and at my age I don’t know how many more opportunities I’ll get.”

Djokovic later revealed he did not know the identity of the spectator he had gestured to leave the box, after admitting the man put him off by yelling during a point.

“Yeah. Yeah, he did. He was actually in the box where some of my friends were,” added Djokovic.

“I don’t know who the guy was, but yeah, I was pretty annoyed by him at that point. I was communicating with my friends to have a little chat with him.”

Former British No 1 told Tennis365 that Djokovic thrives when he is agitated on court, with unruly fans giving him inspiration to succeed.

“He has always been a character that has slightly divided opinion and that is not just because of his tennis and the decisions he has made on the court,” Henman told Tennis365.

“Having watched him a lot, he is almost a confrontational character. So if he has 80 per cent of the crowd’s support, he is the type of person who will focus on the 20 per cent and use it to motivate him and to fire himself up.

“I find it amazing and fascinating that he focuses on individuals in the crowd who are against him.

“Whatever way he approaches it, you can’t deny it isn’t working for him because his results are just incredible.

“I thought he had a real chance of doing the calendar Grand Slam this year as he was playing so well and it took an incredible performance in the final at Wimbledon from Carlos Alcaraz to stop him.”

READ MORE: Tim Henman offers alternative view on Novak Djokovic’s relationship with tennis fans