Novak Djokovic has come out and admitted that he had once considered retiring from tennis almost a decade back owing to the pressure of not living up to the expectations.
Before the sporting world into lockdown mode, Djokovic was having a dream-start to the year. He lifted the ATP Cup with Serbia, won a record-extending eighth Australian Open title, and then completed a fifth triumph at the Dubai Tennis Championships, extending his unbeaten run to 21.
But according to a recent interview with Sky Sports Italia, the top-ranked tennis player in the world went through tough times in the past. The 17-time Grand Slam champion won the first of the lot at the 2008 Australian Open, but went on to lose four of his next five Grand Slam encounters against Federer, and four against Nadal at the Majors during that period.
Djokovic explained that the losses against Federer and Nadal affected him as he continued to be under pressure. But things turned worse when in 2010, he considered quitting the sport altogether.
Austria’s Jurgen Melzer sent the then World No.3 packing at the 2010 French Open even though the Serbian was leading by two sets. “Against Melzer in Roland Garros, during the quarters, this defeat was really difficult for me emotionally,” he added.
“I cried a lot after this defeat because I had a moment in my life, my career, when everything happened in a fusion in which I really did not see a reason to keep on playing, I wanted to quit tennis.”
“After that moment I felt I was freed. The accumulation of this pressure was making me too tired to play, I wasn’t feeling the joy, I wasn’t feeling free to really play in a way, a type, a style of play which was aggressive,” he added.
After overcoming that defeat, Djokovic went on to win seven more Australian Opens, five Wimbledons, three US Opens, and a French Open to be in touching distance of Federer and Nadal’s Grand Slam tally.
Recently, Djokovic expressed his concerns about compulsory vaccination once the tennis season resumes post-July. Apart from pledging €1million to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, the 32-year-old said that he has had “a long conversation” with Federer and Nadal about how they can “help lower-ranked guys who obviously are struggling the most.”
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