Novak Djokovic and Goran Ivanisevic - Wimbledon 2023

Novak Djokovic ‘had luck to have Nadal and Federer come before him’ claims coach Goran Ivanisevic

Novak Djokovic and Goran Ivanisevic have worked together since June 2019, and now the Croatian has revealed how he ‘motivates’ the 24-time Grand Slam champion, paying tribute to rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Djokovic last compete at the Davis Cup Finals Group Stage, beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina to help Serbia through to the knockout stages in Malaga later this year.

The 36-year-old then elected to miss the ATP’s return to China this year, and now his coach has spoken about the difficulties of working with the Serb during the Entrepreneurial Attitude conference.

“You always have stress. There are five of us in the team, but everything is always my fault. That’s how it is when you are a coach,” joked Ivanisevic.

“On the court, people saw me as a savage or semi-savage, but I’m quite different off the court. I’m quite calm. No one believed that I could become a good coach. You need to know how to bury the ego. You don’t matter anymore. The player is important.”

The 2001 Wimbledon champion has found a lot of success with Djokovic, but he has also been involved in the odd confrontation with the world No.1.

However, Ivanisevic does not think that this is always a bad thing, “It is not easy to motivate him [Djokovic] because he has already won everything, but we have a way. Many times we don’t agree, but it’s good to argue on the court. I love this job. Work can only be done if you love it and have the support of your family. If you don’t know how to deal with stress, which is always present, then you can’t do your job.”

He continued, “I am happy to train a genius, the best tennis player of all time and one of the best athletes in general. It’s unfortunate that only wins count. The final is not good, it’s like you didn’t even come to the tournament. It’s easier for me because we are from the same region.

“I understand a lot of the things he does and I’m prepared for them in advance. I did the same, but now as a coach I have to be more calm and composed.”

Despite describing Djokovic as a genius, Ivanisevic has suggested that his players rivals have helped him improve.

“He’s a winner. He’s the guy who is self-motivating. He had luck to have guys like Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer come before him, so they pushed each other, but he’s a born winner,” said the 52-year-old. “For him, when you tell him he cannot do something, it’s even worse. Then he’s going to show you that he can do it.”

Djokovic is set to return at the Paris Masters, that begin on Monday 30th October, after his month break away from the matchcourt.

Inside the baseline…

It would need to take a strong set of characters to sit in the box of Novak Djokovic, who often vents his frustration towards his box when he is not happy about something. This is where someone like Ivanisevic is good for these situations, as he understands the pressures of being at the top level of the sport, being a former world No.2 and Wimbledon champion.

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Novak Djokovic Grand Slam titles since working with Goran Ivanisevic

Ivanisevic’s track record with Djokovic is undeniable, so we at Tennishead wanted to look back on all of the Serb’s success since beginning his partnership with the Croatian:

Weeks as world No.1: 172*

Number of titles: 22

Grand Slam titles: 9 (Australian Open – 2020, 2021 & 2023. Roland Garros – 2021 & 2023. Wimbledon – 2019, 2021 & 2022. US Open – 2023)

ATP Masters 1000 titles: 6 (Paris 2019 & 2021, Cincinnati 2020 & 2023, Rome 2020 & 2022)

ATP Finals titles: 1 (2022)

*Current No.1

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.