World No. 1 Tennis player Novak Djokovic has observed that the biggest challenge for next generation of tennis stars will be to endure at the top in order to establish themselves as great champions in the sport.
Speaking to press after his hard-fought victory against 23-year-old Borna Coric in the second round of the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, Djokovic reflected on the rise of young stars — including Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Jannik Sinner and Andrey Rublev — and what they can do to establish themselves at the top.
“I definitely see a lot of quality in the young players,” said Djokovic, highlighting 19-year-old Sinner as ‘one to watch’.
“[Sinner] definitely possesses a game that is powerful and is with a lot of quality, and you can say he has the potential to be a top player of the world.
“Sinner is definitely, I would say, the leader of the guys younger than Zverev and Tsitsipas, who I think by many experts’ opinions [is] the next ‘top’ top player.”
Djokovic also reserved some words of praise and caution for 23-year-old Zverev and 22-year-old Tsitsipas, who have become fixtures in the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings and lifted the trophy at the Nitto ATP Finals in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
“These are the guys of the ‘next’ generation, so to speak,” said Djokovic. “They’re still very young, but they have a lot of titles. Both Zverev and Tsitsipas won the [Nitto ATP] Finals, which after Slams is the biggest event in our sport. So those guys are already established top guys. I can’t speak of them as ‘potential’ in tennis, because they already have achieved some great heights in tennis… But let’s see.
“Many things have to come together in a career and life of a tennis player in order for him to be able to find his best and maximise his potential and to thrive every single year,” he added. “And to endure, because I think you have a much better chance to have a great Grand Slam or a great season. But can you endure for three, four, five, 10 years? Fifteen years?”
It’s something that Djokovic has a career of experience in doing, ever since lifting his first Grand Slam title at the 2008 Australian Open at 20 years old. He’s since gone on to break some of the longest standing records in the sport, racking up 17 Grand Slam titles as well as holding the No. 1 spot in the FedEx ATP Rankings for 292 weeks and counting.
“Obviously winning a Grand Slam is one of the biggest successes and achievements that you can have in our sport. And of course, anyone can have an unbelievable couple of weeks, but then can you really do that year after year, be No.1 in the world and finish the year as No.1?” Djokovic pondered.
“I think that’s probably the ultimate goal really, is how to find your balance in your private and professional life in order for you to thrive throughout the entire year and to be one of the contenders for No.1 in the world.” Djokovic continues his Vienna quest against Hubert Hurkacz or Lorenzo Sonego in the next round for a spot in the semi-finals.