"He’s a born perfectionist and always wants to play perfect tennis": Justine Henin and Boris Becker assess trouble with Novak Djokovic's poor form so far

Friday, 19 January 2024 at 05:30
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Seven-time Grand Slam winner Justine Henin and former world number one Boris Becker believe it is a matter of time before Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns to his very best.
The 36-year-old had a relatively hard beginning to his campaign at the Australian Open where he ended up winning first and second-round encounters in four sets.
Hennin was recently quoted in a report where she suggested that Djokovic is definitely struggling which can happen when you are praying at the highest level.
“It means, as he put it, that he’s still not able to play his best tennis. He says it much better than we do. You could see from his face that he wasn’t feeling particularly well. After the first round, I thought he was more relieved than today,” she said.
“Maybe he’s going through some physical difficulties, facing young players who want to take their chances. He got through it in four sets, with a little more time on court, but he’s in the third round.
“At the end of the first set, we were right not to worry about Djokovic. He was playing extremely well. Popyrin destabilised a Djokovic who was losing his intensity. The world No 1 came back with a vengeance.
“There’s some inconsistency, but it’s all about energy and intensity. He made no secret of it: he wasn’t at his best physically, he was a bit ill. You always wonder at what level you’re going to find this player, at the start of the season or at the start of a Grand Slam, but does it really matter?
“With the matches, the confidence, the experience of a tournament, we know that all that can evolve. He knows that better than any other player. Of course he’d like to be at an even higher level, but at the same time he knows that he’s capable of playing better in the next round if he feels better physically.”
On the other hand, Becker was also quoted in a report where he demanded respect for Djokovic who is going through a ‘difficult’ phase.
“He (Djokovic) was honest about the fact that he is still behind form and not playing his best tennis. He demands the utmost attention from his box and of course the right tactical support,” the former world No 1 analysed.
“Sometimes this is difficult to understand if the returns were actually good but Novak wasn’t satisfied with them. He’s a born perfectionist and always wants to play perfect tennis – that’s always challenging for a coach.”

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