Djokovic Wimbledon 2021

‘Djokovic is in a vicious cycle of confidence’, claims former world number five

Former world number five Cedric Pioline believes Novak Djokovic has “gone up an extra level” in recent years and said the Serbian knows how to “kill his opponent’s hope”.

Pioline – a finalist at the 1993 US Open and at Wimbledon in 1997 – also thinks the 34-year-old is in a “vicious cycle” of confidence, like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have been previously.

World number one Djokovic won his 20th Grand Slam title to equal Federer and Nadal by defeating Matteo Berrettini in the Wimbledon final last week.

Pioline won five ATP titles – including the Monte Carlo Masters in 2000 – before retiring in 2002.

“You have the feeling that in the last two or three years, when he (Djokovic) was already a great champion, with everything he has accomplished, he has gone up an extra level,” the Frenchman told L’Equipe.

“But not necessarily in his game only – more in what he gives off, a sort of added assurance, something impalpable floating in the air. For me, that’s what makes him a better tennis player.

“He might not be playing his best game, but he handles every ‘movie’ of the match very well. He knows exactly when it counts, when to really tighten the screws and take the score to kill his opponent’s hope.

“He is, as previously Federer and Nadal were at certain points in their careers, in a vicious cycle – ‘The more I win, the more confidence I gain, the more confidence I gain, the less I panic, the better I manage’.

“Added to this is a phenomenal ‘experience’ compared to every young first-time finalist like Berrettini or [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, who plays his first Grand Slam final against an opponent who has about thirty behind him.”