Novak Djokovic: “I still have passion and hunger” | ATP Tour

Novak Djokovic competed over the weekend at the Laver Cupwhich served not only as a competition between Team Europe and Team World, but also as a celebration of those who have now retired Roger Federers career. The Serb was happy to take the special moment with him.

“I have a lot of respect for Roger and what he has brought to our sport. He’s had an epic career, he can be proud of it. He’s one of the most recognized athletes of all time,” Djokovic said. “His resignation is a sad moment for tennis.”

Djokovic is 35 but not thinking about retirement just yet. The 88-time tour-level world champion, currently ranked 7th in the Pepperstone ATP rankings, is keen to maintain his high level.

“I still want to play tennis, even though I’ve achieved pretty much everything you can achieve in tennis,” Djokovic said. “I still have passion and hunger to play at the highest professional level.”

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Photo credit: Tel Aviv Watergen Open
That trip has taken him to Tel Aviv this week where the Serb will compete Tel Aviv Watergen Open. The top ranked will play against the Spaniard Pablo Andujar or brazilian Thiago Monteiro in his opening game.

“I was determined to play Laver Cup and I also wanted to play three weeks in a row, so Tel Aviv was the perfect choice for me,” Djokovic said. “Also because I haven’t been here for a while and last time I had a fantastic experience here.”

In 2006, an 18-year-old Djokovic took part in a Davis Cup tie in Israel. He’s happy to be back in the country.

“It was the loudest atmosphere I’ve ever experienced, very sporty people here. I love seeing that. And on my second visit to Israel, I also visited Jerusalem, but that was a while ago. I forgot a lot of things, so I will definitely come back,” Djokovic said. “For me, this week is mainly about tennis. I hope to play well here and see a lot of people watching my games.”

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Djokovic is also playing doubles this week, alongside the 45-year-old Israeli Jonathan Erlich, who will retire after the tournament. Djokovic’s only ATP Tour doubles title came alongside Erlich at Queen’s Club in 2010.

“He agreed to play with me! It’s the other way around,” Djokovic said, bursting out laughing. “This is his last tournament and I’m honored to be on the pitch next to him at this time, in front of his hometown crowd. Hopefully it’s not just a game, we’ll try to go as far as possible.”

Djokovic said he trained for two hours on Tuesday and feels “good and happy that the injuries are behind him now”. This allows the 21-time Grand Slam winner and 38-time ATP Masters 1000 champion to focus on playing the best tennis possible.

“There is no secret or key that solves all problems. It’s a combination of things that are part of your character: who you are, how you train, what your lifestyle is. All of that creates the image of success,” said Djokovic. “This formula [has] worked for me. But I also try out new things because I always want to develop further. Especially if you have guys like [Carlos] Alcaraz, who is full of power and adrenaline. So you always have to figure out how to improve and take yourself to a higher level.”

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