There’s little doubt that Novak Djokovic is less loved despite being as accomplished as Nadal and Federer. And, not only that, he inspires more young aspiring professionals than perhaps Rafa and the Maestro combined! There is an obvious reason for that.
Djokovic plays the retrieving and counter punching brand of tennis
Novak Djokovic plays the retrieving and counter punching brand of tennis, played by 99.5% of the players on the tour. But Djokovic plays at an exceptionally higher level than all others. And, how does Djokovic manage to do that? Novak dedicated himself to retrieving and counter punching tennis by excelling in fitness, flexibility, as well as focus. He understood early on the significance of the crucial three Fs for retrieving and counter punching in tennis. He also realized one does not need the god given talent of Federer, or the genetic strength of Nadal to excel at retrieving and counter punching. And, of the three Fs, focus by far was the most important F.
When the counter punch becomes the weapon
Djokovic, unlike most other aspiring professionals, wasted little time on developing real weapons. A 138mph serve or an out of the world backhand or forehand were not his priorities. He focused entirely on developing and mastering the counter punching abilities. But he realized the importance of scoring a good grade on the serve, ground shots, and variety. Djokovic, however, neglected the net aspect of the game. The volleys, serve and volley, as well as chip and charge were of little use as a baseline counter puncher and retriever.
Also read – “Is Novak Djokovic a victim of media bias?”
Novak’s favorite and most effective shot by far is the return of serve, and the return is a counter punch to the serve. And, his backhand causes maximum damage from the position of defense. Djokovic’s backhand is not of Wawrinka’s calibre at drawing the first blood, but as a counter punch it surpasses Stan’s.
Novak Djokovic is less loved but beats 99.5% at their own game
Novak Djokovic is less loved but beats 99.95% of the players at their own game. And that takes unquestionable fitness to reach faster and play longer, suppleness to recover quickly, and focus to outsmart, and outplay others at their own, retrieving and counter punching, game. The counter puncher, at the core, is first a focused strategist. No one, therefore, is a better counter puncher than Djokovic.
Djokovic as an inspiration to all aspiring tennis pros, not as talented as Federer
Novak has drafted a road map, a blue-print of sort for any aspiring tennis pro to follow. One does not require the talent of Federer to follow Novak’s road map. The road map requires only hard work to reach the very highest level in tennis. The ground shots are honed while perfecting the counter punches. There is a reason Borna Coric, Hyeon Chung, Alex De Minaur, and a host of other up and coming player choose to follow in Novak’s footsteps. Even tall and hard-hitting professional like Zverev choose to play the retriever from 10 feet behind the baseline instead of attacking tennis. In Djokovic’s blue print for success, developing fitness, flexibility, and focus requires maximum effort and practice. And, the prospects of excelling at those far exceed the chance of developing a killer forehand or serve.
Luckily, for the Djokovic road map, the slow courts across all playing surfaces support the retrieving and counter punching tennis over all the other.