Coach Goran Ivanisevic identifies the moment he knew Novak Djokovic would win his seventh ATP Finals title.
By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Monday, November 20, 2023
In his prime, Goran Ivanisevic owned one of the scariest serves in the sport.
Fear factor struck Ivanisevic last week: He was worried his charge, Novak Djokovic, might not qualify for the semifinals of the ATP Finals.
Meeting the media after Djokovic dismantled home hero Jannik Sinner to capture his record seventh ATP Finals crown in Turin, Ivanisevic shared the moment he knew the world No. 1 would defend his championship.
Djokovic, who lost a three hour, nine minute epic to Jannik Sinner in round-robin play last Tuesday night, needed Sinner to beat Holger Rune on Thursday in order to qualify for his 12th ATP Final semifinal. Had Rune prevailed, Djokovic would have been eliminated.
Coach Ivanisevic said watching Sinner close out a 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 win over Rune from his hotel room was the moment he knew Djokovic would win Turin again.
“I heard the people, Okay, maybe Jannik is not going to try 100%. He already in the semis,” Ivanisevic told the media in Turin. “But Jannik, with that match, not because he helped Novak, doesn’t matter, he showed what kind of champion he will be. He’s competitive and he wanted to win. He wanted to win. You want to win every match when you play in front of your home crowd.
“Actually I was very happy. I was kind of scared on that break point in the third set. Wow. But then last two games, Jannik played unbelievable. It was really a relief. From that moment I knew that Novak is going to win the tournament.”
Emotional intensity helped fuel Djokovic to his ATP-best seventh title of the season and 98th career championship.
Ivanisevic, who was a highly emotional player himself, said he doesn’t get angry with Djokovic for two simple reasons: 1. He’s the GOAT and 2. He gives maximum effort on court.
“Who am I to get angry at him? He’s the best player in the history of tennis,” Ivanisevic said. “I can be only angry with him sometimes when he’s yelling for no reason at us. When he loses the match, he’s always giving his best and he’s trying.
“But it’s not easy to deal with him when he’s losing the match. On Tuesday night, he finished late. On Wednesday we didn’t see him at all. Till Thursday we didn’t know what’s happening, to be honest. We were in the room. We didn’t know if we are going home, if we are going to the warm-up against Hurkacz. We were sitting, sitting. We finally find out that he’s going to play.
“Like every human being, he has some fighting with himself. I think he made good decision to stay calm. I know is not easy. I know is not easy to motivate himself. He won everything. He finished No. 1. But he always find motivation.”
Photo credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty