Occasions are rare where two global sporting superstars agree with one another—but if only to show how tightly contested the 2011 French Open will be, three global sporting superstars are in agreement on the one thing: Novak Djokovic's confidence has been the key to his success this year.
He has more confidence; that's clear. Sometimes before when it was windy or he didn't feel good, he was not fighting as much. But now, this winning streak shows that he's playing normally and that he's winning maybe easier than before. But he's the same player. He had some tight matches that he could have lost. He didn't… I don't believe he's different from my point of view. He was always finishing his matches very well.
Right now, he's probably defending better, but I think it has a lot of things [to do] about confidence.
How has it come about?
It is one thing to have confidence, and quite another, to know how to channel this confidence. If you take a trip down memory lane to the 2009 European clay-court season, it was obvious to all that Novak Djokovic was thriving and was being competitive on clay against Nadal.
What are Djokovic's chances of winning the French Open this year?
They met three times on clay that season, and all three matches they played left one with the impregnable impression that Novak Djokovic could beat Nadal on clay. He huffed and puffed, but at the time, he just didn't have enough. He was confident that he could beat Nadal, he was aware that Nadal's game was reaching its limit and he had a game plan to defeat him—but he didn't. Such was the nonexistence of a channel for that confidence.
Watching Nadal run rings around the tennis world in 2010 must have left an impression on Djokovic. Losing in the final of the US Open to Nadal in the way he did would've hurt—it should have hurt.
It's no surprise that nowadays he has such a visible desire to win. No longer content with just being the "Djoker," he wants to be king. He doesn't care for friends—he just wants to dethrone Nadal on clay, to be the No. 1 player in the world and he's not allowing anything or anyone to stop him.
I think he's got the right mentality on the court. He's been very solid throughout the whole year. He's starting tournaments very well, and when he's played against the top guys, he's raised his level, which maybe in the past he hadn't done. He's found a way of winning against them, and now obviously he's got a lot of confidence.
Novak Djokovic has got all the power he could ever need—the belief in himself. Confidence. This makes him the envy of all.
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