Novak Djokovic: Full InterviewAug 14, 2022
So I wanted to start by taking you back to the year 2007. At that time you are third in the world, next year you win your first Grand Slam, but no matter what you tried, I think at that time if that was lifting weights, riding a bike for hours , change coach. I think you had nasal surgery to improve your breathing at the 2010 Australian Open, which I think was one of the lowest points of your career at the time. Tell me about a doctor who was watching that tournament on television that changed everything for you. Yes, his My name is Igor Chetoevich and for some reason in Australia in particular, I was always struggling very early in my career with breathing problems, a somewhat mild version of asthma and just choking at night for many years, since I was seven years and for some reason, you know, as time went on, all these allergies were gaining more, I guess in intensity in terms of the reaction, I felt like it was getting stronger and stronger and the place where I felt them the most It was always a tennis court and that's it. where you know that emotions create pressure of expectations and when you mix it all up you get a formula that makes you really experience some major health problems and problems on the court and because of that, I was withdrawing matches and it took me a long time to recover so Dr.
Igor reached out to people we have mutual friends with and they reached out to my parents and when I met him I did a couple of sessions and I and I and I. You know, I really felt a big difference, that was the first time I was introduced to quantum physics, quantum physics, the world of the quantum field and biofeedback. He had this whole analysis and overview of my emotional body, my mental body, my physical body. body into all the food allergies and everything that he was experiencing, so we slowly started peeling back layer by layer and really digging into the things that are related to my health and trying to understand what the core of it is.
Of course, the diet was one of the most integral parts of the problem and changing the diet was something that allowed me to get rid of the allergies and everything, particularly the gluten and the dairy that I eliminated from my diet and the refined sugar, and that was it. . It was a change but I was very determined because I could feel it instantly right after the first session, in the second session with him I could feel that there was an improvement. The family was initially worried when you were losing, right, yeah, they, um, they were initially worried. and I actually started to kind of, you know, get rid of red meat as well because I felt like I also had to put a lot of energy and effort into the digestive process to digest meat, so that would take up a lot of essential energy that I need for my concentration in recovery for the next training session or for the next match, that was the starting point of the journey that took me to the point where I am at the moment.
I'm eating plant-based products, you know, I don't eat any animal products, so it was a really interesting journey that started when you mentioned in 2010 what you eat on a normal day today. Well, I always start when when I get out of bed I start with warm water and lemon to help my body detoxify and then I drink celery juice on an empty stomach and then I take a break and then I have my smoothie and my green smoothie with different seaweed and different fruits and superfoods great supplements that I use that allow me to have mental clarity, you know, feel good, longevity, I guess, and different health benefits and I eat a lot of fruits, um, for the first part of the day salads I don't like eat any foods that require a lot of energy for digestion, especially in the first part of the day because that's when I need the most energy for my workout, so I keep things pretty light and I probably would have liked you to know soda grains like quinoa, millet, wild rice, sweet potatoes, and regular potatoes, such as steamed or boiled.
You were trained by the famous trainer Gensek at six. You're already thinking that you can be number one in the world. Because? I fell in love with it when I was four years old and you know my dad bought me a tennis disc and they were making three tennis courts and in the restaurant that my parents ran, back in a mountain resort here in Serbia and we used to pass by a long time there and me, my dad, my uncle and my aunt, they were all competitive skiers and my father also played soccer and my mom graduated from sports university, so there is an athletic gene in the family. that says and um, so it's not a coincidence that I ended up playing sports, but it's a little strange that I started playing tennis, something that was quite unknown in my family, but I think it was a sign of a destiny.
Three tennis courts were built when I started watching tennis on television, it was a Wimbledon final and Ellen appeared very, very shortly after that with her and my parents' camps. I am very grateful that, first of all, they supported me and my desire to play tennis when you were a child. How long did they hide from you the sacrifices they had to make so that you could pursue your dreams for a long time they did hide and managed to hide many things that They made them suffer and they had to sacrifice so that I could, you know, pursue my love of tennis, my love of the sport, but there were certain things that they just couldn't hide from me.
I could see clearly. I remembered it at one point. period, my dad took out a 10 German mark bill and put it on the table and said: this is all we have, you know, which today is equivalent to ten dollars, maybe even less because at that time it was not It was really about tennis, but more about us surviving his family and having bread to eat during the day and um, but somehow you know, my parents found a way and they were a great team because my mom was and still is a pillar of the family, she is that stability that keeps everyone together. and she is an incredibly strong woman, truly an inspiring woman who has had to deal with four men in a very small apartment with all of our different needs and activities and she did everything a woman could do and she was preparing breakfast, lunch, dinner, cleaning, washing, ironing. pick up at school bring to school she was, I mean superwoman literally and my dad, on the other hand, he was the one who provided and he was the one who was also a visionary, but at that time where you had a 10 mark dollar Germans at the table for the whole family of five, you know, it took a lot of guts to really follow through with the vision of supporting me to become a successful professional tennis player which he still is.
My life as someone who always finds strength when you need it most and that's why I think I also inherited that trait on the court when I need to somehow find a way and find that strength, I think. that's the father in me, how much consideration did you and your brothers give to changing nationalities and playing for England at the time when finances were very tight? Well, luckily for us, I was doing very well in the 12 and under international tournaments. I was 14 and then I was seen by tennis agents, you know, traveling at these junior events and then we were offered to change nationalities to British nationality when I was, I think, 14 and it was. very tempting at that time for for me for my parents very, very tempting because of the problems solved yes exactly my family my parents would get a job my family would have a house I mean, it was a great deal, I'm not saying that I would be particularly wrong if If we did that, who knows where the journey would take us, but I think life has just arranged things and organized them in such a way that it had to be that way.
What do you remember about the conversation in which you as a family finally decided to reject him. Well, to be honest, it was mainly my parents' decision. Do you know if. Of course, I was included and involved in the conversations and I did it. Personally, I didn't feel it from the beginning. Simply. He said listen, I don't want to, I don't want to go live in England but I don't know anyone. I want to stay here with my friends. I have my school. I have my friends. I have my life. I have my country. I have my language.
I have everything here. I just didn't feel like I would feel happier there, but I understood that it was a decision my parents had to make because it wasn't just about how you feel. somewhere, but it's only if we can survive his family and something had to be sacrificed, so if I wanted to pursue a tennis career, then they had to seriously consider moving to London, but dad and mom, you know, they took that risk He rejected the offer and we stayed here. What was the tournament or match where you felt like you had really arrived? uh that's a good question, I think it was probably when Wimbledon was always a very special tournament and it was always a dream tournament for me.
When I was a kid, I always wanted to win Wimbledon. The first top 100 breakthrough I had was there. I qualified and saved. I think two or three match points in the last qualifying round were one of the main motivations I had and driving forces. What I had in that particular match was that my brothers joined me in London because if they came I had to qualify and I won three rounds and I got to the fourth round at Wimbledon and I qualified for the top hundred and that's where I really I felt good now that I entered the elite field of professional tennis.
I wanted to talk to you about the decisive moments when you are in those situations. How do you avoid distractions? Breathe consciously first. It's probably the simplest thing you can do, but probably the most important. Most effectively, I think the experience of being in this particular situation so many times before in my career, helps me every time I have to face adversity and distractions, and you know my thoughts, what ifs, my fears, etc. I think everyone goes through that thought process, it's just um and I don't think it's particularly bad. I was thinking it's bad, so I was trying to ignore it or I was trying to shut it down, but I think the biggest transformation in a positive way for me started when I recognized it, I was starting to recognize it and accept it as part of me, it's there, It is there, my ego is there, my fears are there, everything is there, it is present, but then how will I approach it in a way that will help Me overcome that, transform it into positive fuel.
It will help me get through the defining moments you talked about. Simply feeling happy, joyful and present on the court and making the best of that experience. As? Do it well. I practice a lot of mindfulness, so you know, meditation, you know, journaling, talking to my team, my parents, my wife, everyone around me, trying to address certain um, with my, of course. , life coaches, that I have spiritual guides and that. I also have that that helps me address certain emotional issues, you know, trauma or whatever, that tend to show up on the court, so when it comes up on a break point when I'm facing a match point or break point . or you know, the decisive moments, uh, tend to arise, but they are, uh, I managed to control them much faster and I managed to impose my positive affirmation and my positive feeling, or if that doesn't happen, then I just try to be aware that I have I have to accept that moment that that's going to happen, but I focus on my breathing and I focus on being in the moment and what needs to be done in the next moment, which is to play the right shot, position myself well on the chord and just concentrate on executing the point correctly and that is much easier said than done and I think anyone who plays this sport at the highest level will understand that it just takes years of dedicated practice mentally, not just physically, and you have to do it, you can't wait Let others really solve your emotional or mental problems.
They can encourage you, empower you, understand you, and give you tools, but you must use those tools and do it the right way. the Olympic games uh, how difficult it was to be eliminated in the Rio Olympics in the first round, that was one of the most heartbreaking moments I had in my career, really yes, because I built with myself a great expectation for the Olympic Games in River. uh, world number one, I won four Slams in a row, it was the peak of my career in terms of results, in terms of how I play, how I feel, if there was ever a time for me to get the gold medal or Fight for a gold medal it was now, but because I guess I got injured too because I built such huge pressure and expectations on myself, it was just unbearable, it was too much and at that moment I just was.
I didn't know how to handle it properly and I got injured and I had to um, you know, I lost the first round match because Del Potro won a silver medal and I still managed to play a close match, you know? two tiebreakers, but it was very heartbreaking because the Olympic Games are obviously the largest and most important sporting event in the history of sport and to represent my country in such an event is a great honor and privilege and four years later I have I think I have moremental, emotional experience and how to approach that, so I will make certain changes and corrections in my preparation before Tokyo and in how I do things while I am there, because I want to treat it like any other tournament, because in the past I was dealing with something completely different, which essentially it is, but I think in order to really get the best result, which ideally would be fighting for a medal, I need to treat it like any other big tournament that I play individually, to what extent do you think you get the credit you deserve?
Interesting question, honestly, I don't really think about it much and I, or at least I don't, don't think about it as much as I used to. Actually, I don't feel like I don't have that much love. from the crowds in stadiums or from people around the world, perhaps as portrayed in the media, on the contrary, I actually feel a lot of love, acceptance, appreciation and respect, above all, and the respect for me is very important element of love, which is the supreme energy and the source that drives us all, so if I have someone who respects me and you know, of course, I will respect him and it is the other way around, I also have respect for Someone who does not think so hard love on me or that he doesn't like me, um, whatever it is, it's okay.
I'm really trying to more constructively focus all of my life force and energy to truly be the best person I can be. really and of course, it's different when you play in a big stadium and then most of the stadium chews your name or most of the stadium cheers your opponent's name, I mean, you said, when everyone chants Roger Federer's name , as an example, you actually trained yourself to think as if everyone is singing, they are explaining it to you, well, there is not much to explain, it is really just a mechanism, I guess it is just you, you know your reality or your experience in the external life or whatever happens, it's just the reflection, I think, it's a reflection of what's going on inside of you, so it may sound strange, it probably is to a lot of people because obviously, to everyone, everyone says roger roger rafa, whatever it is, but I hear that too, a part of me hears it.
That too, of course, but a part of me inside says, "Okay, I'm not going to let that get you down or, you know, you might lose a tennis match because of it, or you'd feel bad or you'd get angry." or upset, but I will help you feel better and then I try to transform that into something that is useful to me. In what ways do you think the three of you have pushed each other to be better? I mean, you, Rafael, yes, well, us. I still think we still push each other, we still push each other to be the best we can be with the tennis racket on the court.
Roger has also inspired me in many ways like Rafael, I mean, uh. Roger has especially shown not only me but the entire generation after him and you know how efficiently and intelligently you can train and organize your private life and your professional life to thrive, be your best self and be a champion, how you know how to behave in the court with dignity and everything and and uh rafa, on the other hand, you know he taught me how to have this spirit of never dying, never giving up, uh, this kind of respect for, you know the sport, for your opponents, so I learned a lot things about them and I say it openly even though they are my two biggest opponents, I try to tell myself to always have an open mind and an open heart to learn from anyone, it is not necessary. be just rafa and roger could be anyone you know someone who is ranked outside the top hundred i feel like life is a journey of continuous learning how true is it that you and rafa were close friends until you started beating him?
Well, we seem, yes. We have to define what close friends mean, so it's not really that we were never as close as I would be, you know, with my childhood friends or he would be with his friends, it's just that it's very difficult, you know, because you know your main rivals. We're both fighting for something that only one can achieve, you know what I mean and um, but we always respect each other because I think we're all aware of how many kids look at us and watch what we do. Say how we behave towards each other, towards sport, towards other people, and the example we set is something that is very important to all of us.
How confident are you that when it's all said and done, you'll have your career Grand Slam record? I always have a lot of confidence in myself. I think confidence comes from self-belief. Self-confidence is derived from um. I guess the clarity you have and the clarity you have comes from love and joy in what you do. You do what you choose to do in your life, of course, there are things that have to be sacrificed, unfortunately I want to spend more time with my family, with my children, sometimes I have to leave them for a month or something and that is really difficult, but at the same time I am very grateful to know the closest people in my life who still support me in this great mission and understand that this is the journey that has chosen me.
Honestly, I believe that too. The journey chooses you not just the other way around so I think I still have things to do here in the sport and I think I can win the most Slams and break the record for the longest number one and I think. Those are definitely my clear goals, but at the same time they are not the only thing that motivates me on a daily basis. It's not that it's not sustainable. It's not that I don't push myself every day. What drives me every day. It is something that is more related to my personal growth.
What is the probability that you will still be playing at 40? uh um look, I don't have, I don't believe in limits, I think that limits are just an illusion of your ego or your mind, I definitely want to go for a long time but I know that at the same time I will have to know how to maintain the correct principles in the routine to maintain the health and well-being of my body mind soul and everything has to work in synergy. and in harmony with my family, my private life, I am aware that the pace and the number of tournaments that I am playing are going to decrease very soon, so I will not be able to play with this intensity with so many tournaments and so much travel, uh, during a long time, so I might play at 40, uh, but then I'll probably focus on, you know, the bigger tournaments and the tournaments that mean the most to me, obviously we're sitting right now in your grandfather's apartment here.
In Belgrade you have lived through two wars, the last of which was in 1999, when, you know, NATO, you know, starts bombing Serbia for the last 78 days. You and your family lived in a second-floor apartment at the time. Yes, what do you remember seeing? What do you remember hearing? Well, first of all, I'm sorry, we don't have an apple here because, when I walked into this apartment, I was talking to my wife about it, we're remembering the um, the time of. uh, our visits here as a couple as well and me coming to visit my grandfather, one of the deepest memories would be him cutting an apple in front of me and that was his thing, regardless of what was happening in the world he would come with his knife and with your apple and I would just cut it in a particular way that I still use today.
I use his technique even though it's dangerous for my fingers, but I do it anyway because it's just It's a very fond memory of him and this is the apartment where, as I said at the beginning, I used to spend a lot of time with my brothers, with my family, with my parents, with my aunt and her family, so there were a lot of people, particularly in '99, when we had bombings, as you mentioned, we lived in the apartment that is about 500 feet from here, we would always come to this apartment and we would always to this building, uh, every night, for God's sake. you know how many nights, but particularly 15 20 nights of bombing because our building didn't have a shelter, so this building had an underground shelter, so it was a horrible experience for everyone, especially for the children, do you know what we did?
I don't really realize what's happening, do you know why, why are planes flying over our city and dropping bombs? I mean, who does that? But at the same time it's unfortunate to say that, but after a month we really stopped reacting. I mean, I remember I was celebrating my 12th birthday party at the partisan tennis club where I grew up and you know during the happy birthday song there was a plane flying overhead, you know, you really can't understand how horrible and scary that is. that experience is and how helpless you are, I mean you're here on the ground and someone is flying and they just drop a bomb in a second and it just disappears, what happens when you're out there once and you slip?
Oh yeah, that was the first time. I think it was the first or second night or something of the bombing and we were about to fall asleep again and then a big explosion happened and then my mom got up very quickly and hit the heaters and with her head and she felt unconscious and so it was us crying about the bombs and us crying because mom doesn't react and my dad is there and you know what's happening, you know, and luckily my dad manages to help my mom get back to her normal self as much as could and we gathered our things quickly and we just took the necessities and went out there was no snow the street lights everything was off and and um and I and and it was so loud that we couldn't hear each other we were very close to each other but we couldn't even if you shout They don't listen to you my dad was carrying my brothers and my mom was running with things and then I slipped and fell and as I turn around, I look at the building and I see this stealth plane flying and dropping things and then the ground shakes and then, of course, that is one of the most traumatic experiences and images that I had in my childhood that remained. with me to this day and we were lucky, I think our family, our families, we didn't lose anyone very close to us, there are many people who lost people very close to us in their lives and that is a different level of suffering and different level of trauma, I mean, I can't even imagine the pain that I had to endure to get through, that there was a quote that you gave that they thought was interesting, where you said that you can carry hate, revenge, betrayal, feeling of anger towards those that they did that to you, to your people, to your country, but you can also use them as a tool to make yourself believe and make you stronger, that's what I've learned to do, so yeah, it's interesting, I seem to remember it.
Saying that and at that time I was still upset, I was still angry and I use it in a way that drives me to be successful in tennis and uh, but that changed. I really don't have this emotion. Now when I say no, I won't forget it, I won't forget it and many people will never forget what happened, but at the same time I don't think it's good for anyone to stay trapped in the emotion of hate and the emotion of anger because someone destroyed your home. and your people and killed your loved one I mean I can only imagine you know again the amount of pain you feel when you lose your loved one you know how can you know big countries come together and bomb a small country with people defenseless in the street and they simply destroy everything.
I just couldn't understand that there is no justification for war, there is no justification for bombing, killing someone, taking away their house, I mean this. You know, extreme cruelty, you know, and that has made me and everyone in Serbia very angry. Um, and the scars of these emotions of this anger are still present today in everyone, but I worked on myself, I must say, and all of those emotions. forgive because you need to forgive finally uh how can you be fueled more by something other than love? and love is forgiveness and and and that is my philosophy of life and as difficult as it is, you know, but at the end of the day You can and I think you should forgive because you have to move on.
You know, if you're stuck in that emotion, you know what you're going to do with your life. I mean, it will always stop you. It will always hold you back. hold on not only professionally but also emotionally privately, you know it is difficult, it is very difficult, there are these people in Serbia who have suffered a lot, you know, in the last 100 years, in the first world war, more than 1 million Serbs died , you know, but look. I guess it's a kind of destiny that we, as people, have here in this region, but I still believe that it can make us stronger.
I truly appreciate everything I've experienced in life because I know what those moments in particular have made me. So resilient and so strong, but also so grateful for everything I have in life today. You said your greatest achievement is your open mind. Why do you need to be open-minded to forgive and move on? I mean, if you, if you have a closed mind, I mean, it is very difficult to learn something, to believe in love, to believe in this universal force that unites us, that unites us all, and when you open your heart and when you open your mind, then you are more likely to improve. and love and bring people together and understand.
I think most of the conflicts in wars that occur today are because there is no understanding that there are actually many religious wars in human history because there is no understanding. It's because I'm better than you and you know my god is better than your god or whatever, it's like you know, I don't think that's the future we want.endure that trip and then my tennis results were suffering more. After that, I also got injured and I'm very glad I did. I just focus on appreciating, understanding and accepting that something happened and it happened for a while.
Which is why I am a more mature and adult person on the inside, I think I am better able to deal with my emotions and deal with everything that life what's in store for me, well, it's interesting because, as I mentioned I was listening to one of the podcast
interviews that you gave where you alluded to around the same time that you were going through marital challenges. Yeah, what do you think you learned about yourself after going through that? I learned that when you least expect it, that is. When you know that life will give you something to work on internally, I really feel that my relationship became deeper, more meaningful, more intrinsic, and in fact, until that moment I realized that the relationship between some of the most close to my life was pretty shallow and shallow because I just didn't know how to handle that.
What did he teach you about your wife? What did it teach me about my wife? Where she taught me that we have to take this journey together and that it is inevitable that she will have to endure the same thing? journey like I do at the same time, otherwise we can't stay together and I'm really grateful and happy that she embarked on the same journey, her own journey, but partly at the same time as I was talking. I want to talk about charity and your book Helps Earn that you wrote many years ago. There is a quote from Winston Churchill in the book that says we make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.
Yes, I know you. I've been thinking a lot about how you can use your platform to create social change, yes, in what way, well, a while ago I said that tennis has allowed me to have a stage where I can communicate with young people, particularly with that. I'm kind of focused on and also through our foundation here in Serbia and I motivate them to be the best they can be, to believe in themselves, to believe in their dreams, to believe that everything is possible and that is something that is very dear and very important to me, I feel that there is a much greater mission in life than in tennis than simply winning a tennis trophy, why did you decide through your foundation to focus on early childhood development?
Well, before where we founded the foundation in 2007 I enjoyed my parents' Novak fund, yes, exactly, and for three four years we were helping everywhere, I mean, we were trying to help, you know, funding churches, schools, uh , people with different ailments were difficult to track progress exactly and we all were. about the place and then UNICEF gave us amazing data that there were over 50 children who were not attending any preschool program and then we asked ourselves why and it was partly for financial reasons partly culturally because you know the culture, you know that parents They think it's much better. a child growing up with his grandparents and his family instead of being in kindergarten and then we said okay, this is what we want to do, you know, because there is an obvious misconception of what kindergarten represents. infants. and what early childhood development is and what it means for human life and then we back that up with the scientific evidence that says zero to seven years is the greatest growth of the human brain, so little by little now. almost 10 years later, you know, we almost opened, I think almost 50 and renovated 50 kindergartens, we have more than 20, almost 25,000 children in the program, so they play, they draw together and they learn new things together.
Socialization is so important that children have to know how to interact with other children and learn to share, learn to see differences and appreciate differences instead of judging and overcoming obstacles and working as a team. Another aspect of our work is that we also work with parents, so we have the project. called uh support, not perfection for parents like me. You know they want to be perfect, they want to do everything perfect for their child and then they realize that's not what your child needs. You know that your child doesn't have to have a perfect father. you need to have a supportive parent, the level of appreciation is very high, parents who go through the entire program, so in the 10 workshops included, they really report significant progress with respect to their approach, I would say that to their children and parenting in general, I am very proud of the foundation team, as they are very motivated and very inspired young people who know that they are part of something that is much bigger than all of us and that is affecting education and the lives of children and and as a consequence of that the doctoral program with the university of Belgrade is affecting the future of our country, how did that come about?
It's not just about us, uh, giving back to communities and opening up children's gardens, it's also about, like I said, raising awareness and you can't raise awareness without the data and we need people who really recognize the importance of digging deeper. in all this and learn more about children and their needs and how to raise a conscious adult tomorrow to be the leader of society. I am very grateful and I feel part of a big family and that is why I emphasize that working together I firmly believe in Pyramid that she is that he has caused something in us, he caused the change and I think we feel it and we have done it.
The need to provoke that change in other people has been the biggest challenge or some of the biggest challenges in building the foundations. The biggest problem is that in our country it is not as developed as in the United States, for example, we still have to pay taxes on donations, you know, which is strange, so even if someone donates, we still have to give a part of the funds to the country, you know, which is strange because we give everything to the country, you know, when you do philanthropy, that's all you do, you help the country.
So they haven't yet recognized that their long-term goals with the foundation would be that we hope that in the future we can have every child in Serbia attend one of the early childhood development programs and that's a big goal. because 51 or 2 children were not attending any early childhood programs in 2011, now we are in 2020 and that has changed, but there is still a very long way to go and I think we know that we would probably like to go even leave serbia and and start helping too to other countries in the region and maybe the world, but now we are focused here before you found success, how did you find smart ways to save money financially?
Well, you learn from your parents, obviously, I mean, they teach you. about, you know, some fundamental things in life, made us realize how important it is to be aware of what you know, how you spend, how you save, but I think also the circumstances in which we grew up, going back to situation in the one where my dad put 10 German marks on the table, you know, that's all you had, so I think also those circumstances in the environment taught us great lessons about money and money as something that you should value with respect because you have than earn it.
You have to work hard for it and when you do it it doesn't belong to you, you know, it's just the medium that happens and allows you to live a better life, but it doesn't give you happiness, it doesn't give you joy. that's something completely different in Monaco, yeah, you're not the center of attention, yeah, which also has to be nice to change exactly, exactly, exactly, I mean, I'm not looking to be the center of attention, also when I'm here, but I understand that the people you know obviously follow tennis and follow my results and my tournaments and they encourage me, they give me support and I feel the love and for me that is the focus and I don't perceive myself as a big star.
Don't try to act like that, I try to be friendly and nice to everyone on the street and I think people appreciate how you think your success has changed people's perception of Serbia. I try to be humble about it. So I let other people really judge and analyze that, but what's your instinct? I feel that through sport people get closer to each other. Sport has the power to unite, as Nelson Mandela used to say and I really believe in that. The amount of success that our athletes achieved in the last decades in different sports really significantly improved the image of our country in the world, especially in the West, and I am happy to be part of that team and part of the contribution, so you can say that my success had a positive impact on the reputation of our Serbia, for sure, how was it for you when, suddenly, your name and photo began to appear all over the city.
I don't like that very much to be honest with you I don't really accept it but I don't like it I don't like seeing myself everywhere I don't do it but I know it's part of what I do and part of success and my father especially likes to brag that his son is successful and everything and I understand that you know what he did well he has you know he has a way of uh of By doing that, he, um, right above the restaurant that my parents have in that building, he, well, he has permission , I guess to put up huge banners of mine with different trophies and things he likes so you can see him from the highway. comes to town and he does that, but um, yeah, I mean, I just laugh at it and no, I don't see myself, I don't enjoy it very much to be honest, but I accept it, what does Serbia mean?
Well, Serbia is my birthplace. Serbia is the country that allowed me to grow into the person and tennis player I am today and for that I am internally grateful to Serbia. I don't see my country or Serbia when you say Serbia, I don't see it through the lens of politics or anything else, I see that I see Serbia as a country, a mother to all of us who you know, gave us life and gave us the opportunity to become the people we are. Today Serbia will always be my number one home. What role did your grandfather play in your life?
He was a great support in my life. He would accompany me to school, to my tennis practices, to my outings with friends, whatever it was. He would always be there and I could always rely on him because he was a totally devoted grandfather and when my parents had to work, he would be there covering and I just had a very, very special bond with him. How much do you enjoy traveling I don't enjoy traveling as much as I used to you know when I stay when I travel but I stay somewhere for a long time without seeing my children and my family that is starting to be very difficult for me.
I don't find it as fluid as it used to be. How do you handle it well? I handle it well. I mean, just like I told you, you just have to accept things and understand that you know you can't. Things can't. be ideal yes I think I have enough experience to know how to handle it emotionally mentally to know how to dedicate time on the court when I'm on the court that's all I'm there nothing else really exists and I'm completely immersed in what I have to do, but it's true that there is a time coming where I will have to adapt to these things because I want to be an active father, I don't want to be a father who is always in the way.
How many languages do you speak well? uh fluent probably uh like four, I would say, but I speak Italian and um you know English and French now um German and Spanish so and so I can't communicate in Spanish and German is good I guess speaking more languages and you will continue to learn. Yes, I love languages. I think it's also a respectful way. When you go somewhere to learn at least a few phrases in that language, you respect the people. country to its culture, I think it makes your experience more pleasant and enjoyable now as we head towards a partisan tennis club where I was practicing and where I grew up and spent most of my childhood days with the tennis record. and the tennis training was at that club so we are going there and we haven't announced that we are going so I don't know what awaits us.
I used to spend hours and hours and hours here in this room. you know, playing social games with friends, talking, resting and anticipating the next training session, we would play all summer when there is no school, we would travel around Serbia, we would play tournaments and we would enjoy it a lot, and I was. I didn't need anything I wasn't looking for anything else That was just my life and that was my love and my passion and I just loved it there are some there are some uh of course nicer, more modern clubs. clubs around Belgrade and Serbia, but there is probably no club that has a longer tennis tradition and a more successful tennis tradition than this club, yes, it is definitely wonderful to be here, coach, how is practice going?
What do you think the practice was to record the plan? We did it? Work especially today on balance, the transition weight to the ball in
fullswing and obviously the length, so the imbalance means that you have to be a little more forward for the legs, you can't fall off the ball, so Otherwise, the shot is not effective enough because if you have too much strength and too much speed towards the ball, you arrive too early and then you know that you cut, you are not well coordinated and then what happens is that you go here, right in your back, you hit the ball you hit. the ball or you turn your hips and fall back and he was talking about the length that we specifically worked on today on the length of my shots, soI try to get as close as possible to the baseline.
As possible from various rope positions, the follow-through should go all the way so that the ball goes deeper into the court instead of stopping here, which will automatically produce a shorter ball so that the opponent can play it. dominate and dictate the game at that point, if you don't mind, show how you've modified your serve over the years. I had difficulties, especially in 2010 9 10. I changed my technique for service so biomechanically. I go there, um, my elbow was opening too wide here, so you know, so, I don't know, I try to work on the serve. I'm starting to have some problems with my elbow, that's the only surgery.
I had it in 2018, so that's like I remember where I don't want to play it because I don't want to go back, don't go back, but basically it was going here and then here, so my record had and the
fullrecord was pretty far from my head, It basically wasn't there right now, it's right there, it's where it's supposed to be. I do all the movement, but I get here and before I do this, I was moving my body and then the hand will follow, but there was a lot of wear and tear on the entire kinetic chain of the entire arm from the back of the hips and I would just pull and start having problems with the shoulder and elbow. etc., you want to warm up the last serve, eh, talent, right, you definitely have talent to run away from the ball, let's see how you go, man, come on, you haven't done a single exercise, man, come on, what's going on, exactly what what can you do.
He put me through one of those, yeah trust me this is easier, 100kg after you let's see what you got, yeah you got a nice pecking spec right there oh thanks I appreciate it so let's do one for the back. It's one of the yoga stretches that I like to do and let's see if you can uh I'm not quite there no it's not right so no, no, no, yeah, let's not do that one, let's do a lighter version, rotate to the right exhale to the left and you're stretching your your hips should move but no no no extremely no like that okay then we'll do the cat and your back exactly exactly exactly exactly is completely full full stretch inhale all the way down your head up feels good always you're smiling it's amazing I'm really inspiring very inspiring to see you smile all day especially after those services you received didn't you want to hit him at full speed once just to nail me?
Watching it would have made for good television, although it was good enough television. I was thinking about it, I must admit, but then I thought, "You know, Graham is such a nice guy. He came from everywhere, you know, everywhere, from the United States to visit me and I have to respect that, so, yeah , and I didn't want to mess with any security medical insurance, so I didn't fly back with assistance which we don't exactly like, I just played it safe. I appreciate it, don't worry. don't worry, join, you'll join, for Please, this is a little traditional greeting at the end of a good day of training and usually the newcomer has to say a word that we say and we all say three to one what the word is, but it has to be inspiring. can be a success success success in three one two three success good job
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