Novak Djokovic offers fascinating insight into ways he identifies weakness in opponents

Novak Djokovic has provided an intriguing insight into some of the ways he looks to spot weaknesses in his opponents during matches and declared these elements “really affect the performance.”

Novak Djokovic 2023 US Open

The tennis legend revealed he watches the behaviour and actions of his opponents closely to see if he can gain an edge by sensing how they are feeling physically or mentally.

Djokovic, who turned 36 in May, had one of the best seasons of his remarkable career in 2023, winning seven titles – six of which came at ‘big tournaments.’

The Serbian won three of the four Grand Slam tournaments to take his Major tally to a men’s record of 24, while he also claimed a record seventh ATP Finals crown.

The world No 1 has now won 12 Grand Slams in his 30s and has a staggering 12-3 record in Major finals since turning 30. Only Ken Rosewall and Roger Federer have won a Grand Slam title at an older age than Djokovic managed at the 2023 US Open in September.

Djokovic also claimed a record-extending eighth finish as the ATP year-end No 1 as he ensured his record tally of weeks in top spot passed the 400-week mark.

Speaking in an interview on 60 Minutes on CBS News, Djokovic spoke about his mental toughness and how he monitors his opponents to give himself an advantage.

“Even though there’s no physical contact in tennis, there’s still a lot of eye contact when we’re changing ends, when we’re sitting on the bench, and then the big screen shows him, how he drinks his water,” the Serbian explained.

“And then I’m looking at him, how is he drinking water? Is he sweating more than usual? Is he breathing deeply or not deeply? And then I look how he is communicating with his team. You know, you have all these different elements that are in play that really affect the performance in the game itself.”

The 24-time Grand Slam champion was also asked to give a sense of the size of the targets he is aiming for with his shots.

“Like this, a little coin (laughs). At times yes, at times yes, I’m serious. At times, I’m aiming for this size (gestures the size of a coin). Sometimes I’m aiming for this size (shows a much bigger target with his arms). It depends in the moment of the match, who am I playing against, what the tactic is,” he explained.

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