Novak Djokovic US Open 2021

Seven-time Grand Slam champion claims rising ATP stars are “not intimidated” by Djokovic anymore

Mats Wilander feels that Novak Djokovic “looked a little bit vulnerable” at the US Open and feels the next generation are no longer scared of facing him.

World number one Djokovic enjoyed an incredible season, winning three of the four Grand Slams and earning a record seventh Year-End number one title. Djokovic was also chasing history, hoping to win a Calendar Slam and become the first male player ever to complete a Golden Slam.

34-year-old Djokovic will be pursuing a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title next season, but Wilander feels his competition is growing ever-stronger, with the likes of World number two Daniil Medvedev pipping him to the US Open and Alexander Zverev beating him en-route to Olympic gold.

Wilander told Eurosport that he believes the players surrounding Djokovic in the ATP rankings are confident of beating him.

“I think the biggest difference is the guys that are coming from behind or that are surrounding Novak, they now have the confidence that they can beat Novak on any surface on any given day.

“I think they are not intimidated anymore unless you get to a fourth or fifth set in a Grand Slam.

“But even then, I feel like they have seen Novak most probably have the best year on Tour ever in 2021. Still, at the end of it, he looked a little bit vulnerable at the US Open, at the ATP Finals, and maybe even in the Olympics.

“So maybe the Olympics was a bad idea for Novak. That is why it seemed like he lost a little bit of confidence, lost a little bit of drive. I mean, what an unbelievable year for Novak, and he does not look a day older than 24 years old, not 34.

“The ATP Finals to him is not a Grand Slam. He is clearly aiming at winning Grand Slams, not the ATP Finals, although for his confidence, maybe it was a little bit of a defeat. But yeah, I think it’s two completely different situations.

“I think he was having fun. He is thinking about next year or the year after. It is just pacing himself to enjoy his tennis until it’s over.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.