Novak Djokovic got the quarterfinals of the Italian Open 2021, after the victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina for 6-2 6-1, and in the quarter-finals he will meet Stefanos Tsitsipas. After the wins against Taylor Fritz, instead, who forced him to resort to a tiebreak in the second set, he recalled in the press conference the famous crisis of him in 2016, which emerged a few weeks after winning Roland Garros for the first time.
The Serbian champion had to deal with an evident drop in motivation at that moment in his career, so much so that he could no longer win a Major in the next two years. Nole's situation a few seasons ago is not too dissimilar to what Dominic Thiem is experiencing now, who has not been able to express his best tennis since winning the US Open in 2020.
The Austrian, who became the first player born in the 90s to win a Grand Slam, also took a break from tennis to recharge his batteries and find the right serenity again. He said: "I don't know what exactly happened to Dominic Thiem, nor why he made him feel that way.
Right now we are experiencing a completely unique and particular situation, while in 2016 I had to deal with a crisis of motivation. When I sealed my very long journey with the victory in Paris, I realized that professional goals did not necessarily guarantee me the same results in private life.
I had to sacrifice so many things to get to that point. Between 2015 and 2016, I was the holder of all four Grand Slams and made it to the final in almost every tournament. It was perhaps the best 15 months of my entire career.
Once I reached the finish line, I felt relieved and excited, but at the same time I was also exhausted. It took me a year and a half to get back to normal."
Djokovic: "Youngsters have a vantage on me, Nadal and Federer!"
While still competitive at the highest levels, the Big 3 have reached the final stage of their respective careers.
Novak Djokovic occupies the top of the world rankings at the age of 33, in addition to having won his ninth title at the Australian Open in early 2021. Over the past few seasons, the Serbian champion has decided to turn his attention mainly to the Grand Slams, with the aim of equaling and surpassing his eternal rivals in the all-time ranking.
Rafael Nadal has had a lot of difficulties up to now, also thanks to an annoying back problem that has limited his performance. The 34-year-old Spaniard knows he has Roland Garros on his side, despite the increasingly fierce competition.
In the event of a 14th triumph in Paris, Rafa would reach 21 Grand Slams, overtaking his eternal rival Roger Federer for the first time. The latter will go hunting for the last seal at Wimbledon in the summer, without forgetting the Tokyo Olympics well etched in his mind.
At a press conference in Rome, Djokovic underlined how the generational change is inevitable in any area of life. "The results clearly show that younger kids are winning a lot more than before. Of course, this is facilitated by the fact that at their age they can play almost every week.
There are players like Tsitsipas, Zverev, Medvedev, Berrettini and Rublev who play several tournaments and quickly climb the rankings," analyzed the 18-time Grand Slam champion. The Big 3 will do everything possible to have the changing of the guard postponed further.
"Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev are getting closer and closer to the first position, it is natural that they will take over sooner or later. There will be important changes at the top of the ranking, but no one can know if it will happen in a month or a year," added Nole.
Djokovic has repeatedly reiterated his intention to win the second Roland Garros of his career, perhaps avenging the blow Nadal suffered in the final of the last edition.