Djokovic has key advantage over Nadal and others that can’t be taught
Tommy Paul reflected on his Australian Open match against Novak Djokovic as he explained the main weapon in the Serb’s arsenal. The American made his maiden Grand Slam semi-final in January where Djokovic took him out 7-5 6-1 6-2. And Paul explained that the world No 1 had “the best” mentality on tour – something he hoped to eventually replicate.
Djokovic is currently absent from this week’s Indian Wells Masters after being unable to enter the country, but that hasn’t meant his rivals have forgotten about him. One of the tournament’s home hopes recently discussed his Aussie Open clash with the world No 1, explaining why the Serb was able to beat him so easily.
“I mean, it’s a pretty crazy level, definitely,” the world No 19 said of Djokovic’s form in their semi-final. Explaining what he thought was so valuable in the Serb’s came, Paul added: “But I think he just handles every situation, every moment in massive matches so well.”
And the 25-year-old admitted that he needed to try and emulate Djokovic’s mentality if he wanted to reach his goals, admitting that the world No 1 was the best when it came to mental strength. “I mean, if I want to be where I want to be, I think or I know that’s something I’m going to have to get a lot better at, and something I’m working on big time,” he continued.
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“I think mentally he’s the best in the game.” Paul pushed Djokovic in the opening set of the Aussie Open encounter but won just three games in the next two sets to crash out in the last four, and believed that it was the mental difference that cost him.
He explained: “That’s where you see the difference in those matches at least. I think that’s where most of the difference was in that match. Like you say, Oh, the only difference was mentality? Or like his mental game was better? But, like, that’s big, you know. Like it was like 7-5, 6-1, 6-1 or something. It was all mental, I think.”
Paul’s comments came after he confessed he felt unhappy with his defeat to Djokovic in Melbourne. The American pro explained that he was trying not to be too overconfident after a series of good results – including his Aussie Open semi-final and an Acapulco runner-up run.
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And he admitted that his defeat to the world No 1 brought him back down to Earth despite enjoying his best-ever showing at a Grand Slam. “I don’t want my head to get big. You know, I try and like not get too confident. I think overconfidence is almost worse than no confidence. I’ve been told that since a young age,” he explained.
“You know, it’s important to have that happy medium of being confident when you need to be confident, and being humble when you need to be humble. So I think obviously I’m pretty happy with the way I played in Australia and the result. But, I mean, I looked at it like, all right, my last match in Australia, I got absolutely pummeled, and I was not happy about that match.”
Explaining how Djokovic left him feeling, he added: “I left Australia ultimately thinking, like, all right, what do I need to do to win that match next time or play better in that match? I think that’s probably the best way to move forward from any result really.”
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