Djokovic: “No. 1 is not my priority anymore. I’m no longer thinking about the number of titles.”

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Some interesting revelations from Djokovic today at his press conference in Belgrade where he is training after deciding not to go to Beijing. It is obvious that all the talk of records has taken an emotional toll on him and that he is not enjoying the sport as he used to.

Enjoyment is, after all, the most important thing so it is good to see he has his priorities straight. Djokovic doubled his slam titles from 6 to 12 in a question of two years so it is hardly surprising that there was so much talk of records.

It’s been probably the most dominant run in tennis history and he is obviously feeling the pressure. There has been a lot of talk about a decline of late which shows you how high he set the bar because he is still the holder of 9 out of the 14 biggest titles in tennis, including two grand slams and the World Tour Finals.

Since when is that decline? It is mostly the hopes of people who want to see him decline. Maybe Djokovic is just giving those people some false hope by acting like he is not as motivated as he was before?

I don’t think so. I genuinely believe that he is feeling pressure and that he wants to get back to enjoying tennis again. It is totally the right attitude to have. Breaking records and trying to fulfill expectations should definitely not come before having fun.

That is indeed a recipe for burnout and failure. So, in the end, I don’t see anything too surprising here and I think Djokovic is absolutely doing the right and smart thing. If you enjoy what you are doing the rest will come by itself.

It is all about priorities and Djokovic is spot on in my opinion. He has already reached huge goals like winning the French Open, completing the personal slam, and getting into the GOAT debate. It only makes sense that he should have less pressure now, not more.

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Djokovic Pulls Out of Beijing with Elbow Injury

“I am extremely disappointed not to be able to compete at the China Open this year. I’m still recovering from my elbow injury and have been advised not to play until my condition improves. I will continue with my rehabilitation and hope to be able to return to the ATP Tour as soon as possible,” the 2016 Australian and French Open champion said. “The China Open is one of my favourite tournaments. I have had a lot of success there, winning the title six times. I love competing in front of the passionate Chinese fans and I look forward to coming back to Beijing in the future.”

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Some unfortunate news for Djokovic fans as the world number one had to pull out of Beijing due to an elbow injury but a good decision not to take any risks. Djokovic currently has a 2000+ point lead over Murray in the race so there is no serious pressure on him.

If Djokovic had withdrawn from the US Open or if Murray had won the US Open it would have been a different story. But the fact that Djokovic made the final and Murray lost in the quarterfinals puts Djokovic in a comfortable position at the top of the rankings.

You wouldn’t expect his lead in the rankings just to evaporate after all the dominance since the beginning of 2015. That would have seemed almost unfair. But all credit to Djokovic for playing at the US Open when he clearly wasn’t 100% and making the final.

There was definitely something off about his serving and mentally he didn’t look as sharp as usual. So in a way, this news is welcome since it doesn’t leave much doubt about the fact that Djokovic was not 100% in New York.

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Djokovic is still in a dominant position over his two main rivals

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The period from the beginning of 2015 until the French Open this year was an incredibly productive but at the same time an energy sapping period for him. Ideally he’d almost want to take the rest of the year off after that but, of course, tennis is a sport that hardly has an offseason.

The main thing for Djokovic is to end the year number one for the fifth time which will equal him with Federer. The World Tour Finals is another important event where he’d want to tie Federer at six titles.

The rest doesn’t really matter. He can even skip Shanghai and play only Paris to prepare for London but as fans, we hope he will play Shanghai. Personally, I just want him to recover from all the injury problems and mental fatigue and come back completely fresh in 2017.

But yeah, there are still a couple of things he has left to do this year.

  • 2015 Beijing Final

Pouille and Zverev Win Maiden Titles in Metz and St. Petersburg

Greetings. Today the ATP 250 events in Metz and St. Petersburg were concluded and there were two first-time winners in Lucas Pouille and Alexander Zverev. Pouille defeated Thiem 7-6(5), 6-2 while Zverev defeated the US Open champ Wawrinka 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.

These two are the most promising youngsters on the ATP currently in my view and I therefore expect them to win many more titles. Pouille is 22 years old and will climb from 18th to 16th in the rankings after his win while Zverev is only 19 years old and will climb from 27th to 24th in the rankings.

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Pouille climbed from 78th at the start of 2016 to his current ranking while Zverev climbed from 83rd. For both of them, this has to be seen as a breakthrough season especially with their maiden titles this week.

Pouille has done better because he made two slam quarterfinals at Wimbledon and the US Open while Zverev made two slam third rounds at the French Open and Wimbledon. But Zverev is the younger of the two and titles among teenagers are a rarity these days.

The last one to do it was Cilic in 2008 and in the same year Del Potro and Nishikori did it as well. Click here for the complete list.

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I think both these players have serious potential for different reasons. Pouille was particularly impressive in his US Open win over Nadal. He has big match temperament and all the shots. Zverev is impressive for the mere fact that he won an ATP title as a teenager and he also has plenty of game.

  • Pouille Will Be Better Than Thiem

As for the matches, I only watched short periods of both matches. Pouille had three set points at 5-4 in the first set but Thiem saved them all with good tennis instead of Pouille losing them. In the tiebreak, Thiem raced to a 4-0 lead but made some poor errors, one easy volley miss at 4-1 and one easy forehand miss at *5-4.

Pouille got lucky on one forehand which clipped the net and fell over but that has to go down as a choke from Thiem or you might say clutch tennis from Pouille. The main takeaway is that Pouille was mentally better and that his game is also better suited for indoor tennis than Thiem’s.

You will remember that I predicted the rise of Thiem and now I will do the same with Pouille, but I predict bigger things for him than for Thiem. Pouille has a better all-around game and he is mentally more stable.

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Thiem’s game is better suited for slow surfaces especially clay. He can play on faster surfaces as we saw when he won Acapulco(hard) and Stuttgart(grass) but I still think he has some limitations there. And he can be mentally volatile at times.

I don’t see many limitations for Pouille. He has a good serve and he is comfortable from the back and at the net. But most importantly he has the big match temperament. Again, the US Open match against Nadal was very impressive because Nadal was playing well.

Thiem is currently top 10 but I can see Pouille passing him in the rankings in the not too distant future.

  • Wawrinka Up To Old Tricks

As far as Stan is concerned, losing in an ATP 250 final to a teen should not surprise us. That is just how he rolls. But is that a sign that he will continue his inconsistency or can we expect him to be more consistent in the future?

Will it take him more than a year to win another slam or will he flatten everyone in his way next year in Melbourne again? It is difficult to tell with Stan. He should have won today at 3-0 in the third set but you gotta give Zverev credit too.

From what I saw Zverev was just solid from the baseline basically and Stan made some unforced errors. That is what happened from 5-5 in the third anyway when I was watching. Stan is completely unpredictable.

He can be pretty damn average for stretches and then all of a sudden he finds a rhythm and becomes unstoppable. I can’t really see him ever become a player who consistently wins big titles but who knows maybe he will be more consistent next year.

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