“I watched Champions League finals”: How Novak Djokovic prepared emotionally for historic Roland-Garros final

After winning his 23rd Grand Slam title, Novak Djokovic has explained how he prepared himself mentally and emotionally ahead of the Roland-Garros 2023 final on Sunday

Djokovic Roland-Garros 2023 © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

With Novak Djokovic storming to his 23rd Grand Slam win at Roland-Garros yesterday, tennis fans were given a stark reminder: winning a Major is just as much a mental achievement, as it is a physical one.

For Djokovic, this mental and emotional edge is where he excels. And it all starts with preparation—but not necessarily the way you’d think. Speaking after his historic victory on Sunday, the world No 1 has revealed how he spent his time prior to the Roland-Garros final.

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t playing tennis.

Djokovic admits being nervous and difficult at Roland-Garros 2023

In his post-match victory speech, Djokovic thanked his team for tolerating everything he put them through over the past two weeks in order to win this title. Explaining this comment later, Novak elaborated, saying:

“I am extremely tiring during Grand Slams, I can be a handful – my team knows it, my wife knows it, my parents know it.”

Novak Djokovic Discusses Historic Title; Roland Garros Championship Win

Djokovic continued, explaining, “They all know that sometimes they need to get out of my way, I radiate this energy that says I want to have time for myself. I am nervous on the court, demanding off the court.”

“I know myself well and I know what it takes to win one of these trophies, so I expect others to give the maximum of their abilities, for them to stay focused on this mission. That’s why it’s not easy. If it were easy, everybody would do it.”

“It’s just so much pressure and emotions and expectations from my side personally and from anyone else.”

With the 23-time Grand Slam champion admitting to plenty of nerves this week, particularly ahead of such a monumental milestone, Djokovic has revealed how he navigated these emotions at Roland-Garros.

“I skipped practice yesterday” – How Djokovic prepared for the Roland-Garros final

When asked how he dealt with the pressure of heading into a Grand Slam final with history on the line, Novak Djokovic responded honestly:

“I skipped practice yesterday.”

Explaining that this has been a trend of his in recent years, particularly at the Australian Open earlier this season when the Serbian was carrying an injury, Djokovic went on to highlight how important rest and recovery is to his preparation.

“I dealt with a lot of exhausting hours on the court. I just felt that sometimes less is more, you know, with my team, when we talk about, you know, what is the priority after my semifinals match, we all agreed that the biggest priority is to recharge and recover and get as much hours of rest and treatment and maybe some specific exercises and fitness that would just keep the tonus of the muscles.”

“In terms of hitting the ball, I will not forget hitting the ball in one-and-a-half days. And I think that worked well, obviously.”

Keeping grounded the priority for Djokovic

But the focus wasn’t all physical recovery for Djokovic. In terms of managing his nerves, the 36-year-old chose to focus on the things that keep him grounded in his life.

“So yesterday I had parental duties. I had some time in the forest, in the nature. I love walking around in the national parks or forest or the woods, you know, just having this tranquil time.”

“I watched Champions League finals, as well. I had a good sleep. Did all the chores, all the things that are part of my routine in order to, you know, rest well and prepare well for the match.”

If sleeping and watching football were the only keys to success at a Grand Slam, many more of us would likely have trophies in our cabinets. However, understanding how to prepare mentally and emotionally is just one string in Novak Djokovic’s formidable bow.

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