Novak Djokovic has been told that he has an unusual edge over his rivals that allows him to take things to another level. Mark Philippoussis commended the world No 1’s dedicated approach which included what he ate, what he did before matches and “his stretching”.
Djokovic made history this year when he became the first player in the Open Era to win a 24th Grand Slam. Rafael Nadal was the men’s singles record holder when it came to Major titles going into 2023, having 22 trophies to his name.
But his long-time rival managed to match and surpass him as part of a dominant season. The world No 1 has lost just five matches so far in 2023 and he also managed to level his lifetime head-to-head record against Alcaraz at 2-2, winning two of the three matches they played this year.
And Philippoussis believes that stretching could be part of the reason why Djokovic has an edge over his rivals both past and present. “As incredibly professional as you’ve seen Rafa be or [Roger] Federer, where they’re competing and making sure that they’re going into grand slams mentally and physically the fittest, Djokovic (has) taken that to a level and it’s just amazing,” the Australian told Neos Kosmos.
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With Djokovic already holding a host of records – Open Era Grand Slam titles, most Masters 1000s and all time weeks at world No 1 – Philippoussis admired his approach to keep improving every aspect of his game and his body. The former world No 8 continued: “You have to eat, breathe and sleep tennis to be winning multiple Grand Slams.
“Not only has he won 24, which is a crazy number, he’s still continuing to see where he can improve. Like, where can he get his one per cent here, one per cent there. Is it on the eating, which we know he does everything on the eating side.
“What he puts into his body, what he does before the match, the way he warms up, his stretching. He looks at one per cent, everywhere, because that counts in the Grand Slams.” Philippoussis is already backing Djokovic to win January’s Australian Open thanks to his professionalism.
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With Alcaraz set to play in Melbourne for the first time in two years and Nadal still considering making his return at the Australian Open, it could spell trouble for their chances of lifting the title. “He’s without a doubt the favourite going into the Australian Open and I don’t see him slowing down soon,” the two-time Major finalist added.
“He was incredible to watch at the US Open. If he’s got a practice court at one o’clock, he’s in the gym by 11 o’clock. He’s walking onto the practice court already sweating. He finishes his training, he’s into his drinks and his eating and everything is exactly in place where it needs to be. I haven’t seen a professional like that. There’s been a lot of amazing professionals but I’ve never seen the degree that Djokovic does it.”
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