Wednesday 26 September 2018

Tennis: Fatherhood is the secret of my success, reveals Novak Djokovic

2015 Wimbledon Champion Novak Djokovic during a press conference following the Men's Singles Final at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon
2015 Wimbledon Champion Novak Djokovic during a press conference following the Men's Singles Final at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic celebrated his one-year wedding anniversary by winning a third Wimbledon title and then said fatherhood has been the secret to his success.

Djokovic prevented Federer from clinching a record eighth Wimbledon victory as he beat the Swiss 7-6 (7/1) 6-7 (10/12) 6-4 6-3 to defend his crown in Centre Court.

It capped a remarkable 12 months for the world number one, whose wife Jelena Ristic gave birth to their first child Stefan in October after Djokovic and Ristic had married this time last year.

"Whether I'm winning or losing, she's always there," Djokovic said.

"Family's always there. When I go back home, I'm not a tennis player anymore, I'm a father and a husband. That's a kind of balance that I think allows me to play this well.

"Ever since I got married and became a father, I haven't lost many matches, I won many tournaments. I suggest that to every player: get married, have kids, let's enjoy this."

It was a clinical and ruthlessly efficient display from Djokovic, whose nine major triumphs now put him above Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi and Ivan Lendl in the all-time list of champions.

"He is moving up," said Federer, who was unable to add to his 17 grand slam titles.

"We don't know who is what, all these things, but he's clearly making a big name for himself, having won as many times now as he has in these different slams.

"Staying injury free now for him is crucial. Clearly he's going to be one of the top guys.

"Where, we'll still have to wait and see, but I'm sure he still has many more great years ahead of him."

Djokovic was tested to his limits during two scintillating opening sets, the second of which saw him squander seven set points before Federer won the tie-break.

The Serb, however, drew upon all his powers of resilience to come roaring back and after sealing victory in just under three hours, Djokovic bent down to eat the Wimbledon grass in celebration.

"I was assured that's it's gluten free, it's not processed, completely organic and natural and I could eat it. So I had no reaction," joked Djokovic, who adheres to a strict gluten-free diet.

"It was obviously nice to repeat this tradition and doing the thing I do after I win the title here in Wimbledon.

"As I said on the court, when I was a child, dreaming of winning Wimbledon, it was something I always wanted to do in my celebration."

The triumph means Djokovic now has the same number of Wimbledon titles as his coach Boris Becker, who joined his backroom team in December 2013.

Becker helped Djokovic recuperate after a bruising defeat in the French Open final five weeks ago, when the Serb had been expected to complete a career grand slam.

"We shared very joyful and positive happy moments in the locker room after the match where we hugged," Djokovic said.

"As a team we tried to grasp on everything that we have achieved, especially during this couple of weeks, being able to bounce back mentally after Roland Garros, a tough loss there, and to win this trophy which makes it even bigger.

"Whenever you're winning, obviously everybody feels happy and it's easy to say positive things but in the tough times, Boris was there, as was the entire team."

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