Arguing with McEnroe, “crazy Goran” – Djokovic reflects on past eras of tennis

Novak Djokovic spoke to journalists about the past eras of tennis history and the progress of technology

Novak Djokovic, Wimbledon 2023 Novak Djokovic, Wimbledon 2023 – © Chryslène Caillaud / Panoramic

Usually, the Grand Slams are where the players’ focus is at its peak, particularly in the latter stages, so sometimes it’s a welcome change – both for players and journalists – to talk about something other than the present.

Hence, Serbian journalists dived into the past with Novak Djokovic asking him which era he would have loved to be a part of.

“I would probably get into an argument with [John] McEnroe,” he laughed. “Yes, we’ve all thought about it, we all compare ourselves to the champions of the past. Many of these champions are still very active in our sport – McEnroe, Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl et cetera. I know Boris really well [Becker was Djokovic’s coach for three years] and we often spoke about these topics and how he sees today’s tennis compared to his era.”


Pete Sampras was his childhood hero, so it makes sense that Djokovic wouldn’t want to travel too far into the past.

“I am very sorry I didn’t have a chance to play Pete, since he inspired me to pick up a racquet.

“With (Andre) Agassi, I did play one exhibition match here before Wimbledon. I would have loved to be part of that era, together with crazy Goran,” he laughed, referring to his coach Goran Ivanisevic, the 2001 Wimbledon champion.

Djokovic added that every era has its own merits.

“The Borg-McEnroe rivalry… Then, I would love to have experienced playing Jimmy Connors at a night session in New York – the way he played and the buzz around the stadium, it was awesome. Still, I am grateful to be part of this era with three of my biggest rivals, who pushed me towards all the success I managed to achieve.”

Djokovic: In the past, you had to slice a lot

Djokovic emphasised one word when it comes to progress in tennis – technology.

“The racquet is our most important tool and it’s developed so much. Back in the day, there used to be wooden racquets, but the materials they’re made of nowadays allow players more power and allow them to absorb the vibration of the shot. In the past, you had to play serve and volley and you had to slice a a lot, especially on surfaces like grass. I think that Borg was the first player to try to build points from the baseline, but he was at the net a lot too.”

Seeking his record-extending 24th Grand Slam singles title, Djokovic is due to play Jannik Sinner on Friday in Wimbledon semifinals.

People in this post

Your comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *