Former world number one Novak Djokovic made a sensational claim by saying ‘Tennis is no longer his priority’ as he seeks to find a balance between being a tennis player, husband, and a father.
The 29-year old Serb was tennis’ number one player through the first half of 2016. He became only the third player in the history of the sport to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time after winning his first Roland Garros title last year. Since then Novak has lost his way and never appeared as the same player who ruled the world of tennis. He was dethroned from his number one spot by his long-time rival Andy Murray in November after he lost the important final of ATP World Tour Finals in the London’s O2 arena.
Djokovic started 2017 on a positive note by clinching the Qatar Open title beating Murray in a close finale. Many expected him to showcase his top form at his favorite hunting ground in Melbourne Park where he has lifted the trophy for a record six times. But, the twelve-time Grand Slam champion was stunned in the second round by world number 117 Denis Istomin.
This was Djokovic’s maiden second round exit after 2008 in any major tournament.
After recovering from a shoulder niggle, Novak returned to the court in Mexican Open last week. After making a promising start, the world number two crashed out in the quarter-finals after losing to the fiery Nick Kyrgios in straight sets.
Despite facing a lot of criticism for his latest performances Djokovic seems unperturbed about his future goals as he is trying to balance his personal life with his career.
"Tennis was my number one priority when Stefan was not born," Djoko said as quoted by Tennis World USA.
"Now it's completely opposite. I have a son, a wife, a family, and I am extremely grateful for the blessing of being a father. I'm at the stage where I'm trying to be the best possible husband, father and tennis player."
"It is challenging, but not impossible. Everyone is trying to be the best version of themselves."
"That's the case with me as well. At the same time, I cannot be at 100 percent every day in each role, although I try to give my best. I cannot give as much anybody else expects of me. But I can always give as much of [what] I expect from myself."
Many tennis experts including Djokovic’s former mentor Niki Pilic have questioned his passion and tenacity towards the game. To which Nole has responded, "I respect everyone's opinion, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I accept the positive side. However, I do not look back at some of the stories that do not make any sense."
"I know who I am, where I came from, where I'm going and where I am. Each of us has a right to their own choices, the way they approach life, thinking and it should be respected."
However, the expressive Serb has denied all the rumours around his pre-mature retirement from the game. He says he’ll continue playing tennis with the same intensity in the years to come.
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) March 8, 2017
"I continue to play tennis with the same passion and love that I had when I picked up the racquet for the first time in my hands," he explained. "Tennis makes me strong, and gives me great emotions and as long as I feel it, I'll continue to play. Being the number one of the world is still one of the goals. I want to return to that position, but it is not the main priority. I don't see myself ending my career anytime soon, although I'll be 30 years old.”
"But, consciously taking into account all the other things going in my life, I cannot separate myself professionally, as a tennis player, and privately, as a father and a husband, son, brother, friend. This all makes me complete as a person."