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“You Are a Human Being” – Djokovic Explains His Version of Mental Strength and How it Helped Him Produce 2019 Wimbledon Miracle

The 24-time major champion’s riveting interview on 60 Minutes gives insight into his depth and professionalism.

By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday December 12, 2023

In his recent 60 Minutes interview with Jon Wertheim, Novak Djokovic granted fans access to the headspace of a tennis legend, and corrected a long-held misnomer about his mental prowess.

It may seem to be a gift, but Djokovic assured Wertheim that his mental toughness is a tool that has been honed into a weapon through decades of hard work.

When Wertheim told Djokovic that he felt that his mental strength was his biggest gift, he was quickly corrected by the 24-time Grand Slam champion.

“It’s not a gift,” he said. “It’s something that comes with work. There are different techniques. Conscious breathing is a big part, especially in the moments when you’re under tension.”

Novak Djokovic’s entire interview on 60 Minutes is excellent — but this clip of him talking about developing mental toughness is especially great.

“Even though there is no physical contact in tennis, there’s still a lot of eye contact”

— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) December 11, 2023

The Grand Slam king then explained his philosophy of acceptance, and how his sense of self-identity propels his mentality.

“I might appear [to be] locked in. But trust me, there is a storm inside,” he said. “Always the biggest battle is within, right? You have your doubts and fears. I feel it every single match. I don’t like this kind of a mindset that I see a lot in sports. Like, ‘Just think positive thoughts. Be optimistic. There is no room for failure. There is no room for doubts,’ and stuff like this. it’s impossible to do that.”

Djokovic stressed the importance of accepting one’s imperfections on court, and quickly regaining composure when necessary. His message? Its alright to make mistakes, but it’s not alright to let them linger.

“You are a human being,” he said. “The difference between the guys who are able to be the biggest champions and the ones that are struggling to get to the highest level is the ability to not stay in those emotions for too long. For me, it’s really relatively short. So as soon as I experience it, I acknowledge it. I maybe burst. I scream on the court, whatever happens, but then I’m able to bounce back and reset.”

Novak Djokovic says in tennis, the biggest battle is within. He admits he has fears and doubts, but the secret to his success is his ability to bounce back and reset.

— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) December 12, 2023

Mental Toughness the Key to 2019 Wimbledon Final

Djokovic talked about his famous victory over Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2019, a victory that saw him become the first man to save championship points and win a Wimbledon final since 1949. He saved a pair of championship points and went on to outduel Federer in the first fifth-set tiebreak Wimbledon final history.

It wasn’t his serene tennis that won him the title, says Djokovic. He says he was far from perfect in that contest, but better in the biggest moments – and it was enough.

“The sets that I won were all won in tiebreaks, 7-6, 7-6, 13-12,” he said. “And overall, if you see stats, he was the far better player in every aspect. But I won the match. And so that actually tells you that you can still win if you pick and choose in which moments of the match you’re peaking, and you’re playing your best when it matters.”

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