‘Younger generation are afraid of Novak Djokovic – he beats them with his head’, says former ATP star

Nikolay Davydenko has declared that the younger generation of ATP players are “afraid” of Novak Djokovic and described the Serbian great as “unique” and “the only one like this so far.”

Novak Djokovic at the 2023 ATP Finals

The former world No 3 assessed that Djokovic beats his young rivals “with his head” and suggested his competitors are “already psychologically losing to him” before the match.

At 36, Djokovic is by far the oldest player in the top 20 of the ATP Rankings and one of only two men over the age of 28, along with world No 14 Grigor Dimitrov, who is 32.

Despite this, the Serbian continues to dominate the men’s game, having won four of the last five Grand Slam tournaments he has entered going back to Wimbledon in 2022.

The world No 1 holds a winning record against all of the players currently ranked in the top 10, including No 2 Carlos Alcaraz (3-2), No 3 Daniil Medvedev (10-5) and No 4 Jannik Sinner (4-2).

Davydenko discussed how Djokovic manages to remain at the top of the game and highlighted the mental edge he has over his younger rivals.

“This person is unique to me. He plays with the skill that he has accumulated over the entire time when he even played with us – with [Roger] Federer, [Rafael] Nadal, with me,” the Russian told Championat.

“Novak always adhered to his physical characteristics, tried to maintain strength and concentration. And he understood that he was beating everyone with his tennis.

“The Big Three generation used to be a little stronger. Even Alcaraz, who, like Nadal in his youth, is a good runner, in tennis terms I can’t say that he exceeds expectations.

“If Djokovic gets into shape, even without playing a few tournaments, without injury, he is physically ready. It’s more important that you have enough strength for every match. And if they are, his concentration will be much higher than others. That’s why they are afraid of him.

“Plus, the fear remains: Djokovic also beats the younger generation with his head – they are already psychologically losing to him: “Ah, Djokovic, that’s all!” And Novak dominates thanks to this. What he does is unique. One might say, the only one like this so far.”

The 42-year-old also addressed claims that players from the generation of Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev have not fully realised their potential.

“I can’t agree. Yes, they are no longer 18-year-old juniors, but at the moment I don’t see any other players who can immediately replace them – there are no such stars,” Davydenko said.

“Now a team has been formed, and they all play the same tournaments together. Some play quarterfinals, some finals, some win them. And so they change. There is no one who would run ahead.

“They form a top twenty where they slightly change places in the rankings, but there is no feeling that their time is running out and another generation is coming.

“Alcaraz, for example, is already with them – on their “team”. There is also Holger Rune, Jannik Sinner. They all played together before – and continue to play. So for now I don’t see any replacement for them.”

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