If the 2010s were the years of glory for Novak Djokovic, the late 2000s were the launching pad. That’s where he began showing signs of brilliance that would catapult him to his current legendary status.
It was during this time that he was associated with former American player Todd Martin. Even though he was an assistant coach playing second fiddle to the main coach Marian Vajda, he had a pretty important role in Djokovic’s team. The former world number 4 was to help Djokovic develop a different serving motion to keep him strong in that department after he had endured a shoulder injury.
Things didn’t work out and they parted ways in 2010, after starting their association in 2009. Martin, who is currently the CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame had only nice things to say about his former protege. He spoke some high praise about Novak Djokovic in an exclusive interview with Tennis 365.
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What did Todd Martin say about Novak Djokovic?
Todd Martin said that Novak Djokovic was a clear front runner amongst the big 3. Even though he feels highly of Roger Federer, there is no one more unbearable than Novak Djokovic.
“Roger is the most aesthetically pleasing I have ever seen,” stated Martin, who was part of Djokovic’s coaching team in 2009 and 2010.
“He is pleasing with the serve, he is pleasing with the return, offence, defence… everything he does really looks beautiful.”
However, that’s where he ended with the Roger praise. According to him, if Novak is able to maintain his fitness, he will be invincible. A lot of that also draws inspiration from his current performances.
“For me though, if Novak is right, if Novak is confident and comfortable with his physical status and is really focused, I’ve never seen anybody more unbeatable. This guy has played the game better than anyone else ever has, in my opinion.
“His athleticism is from another world. His return of serve is way better than any other return of serve ever and I mean way better. Nobody has gotten so many balls back and neutralised so many good serves.”
He alluded to their time together and reflected on some of the things he had learnt about Djokovic. Most of that is about his mental toughness. That’s almost always half of the game if you figure it out in the correct manner.
“Having worked with him, when he is focused he has that I’m going through a brick wall mentality. Now he is not always focused, but when he is and we have seen this for long stretches, he doesn’t have to play great. He is that much of a fighter and thrives on it.”
Why is Djokovic not given the respect that he deserves?
Todd Martin believes that life being unfair is the reason why Novak Djokovic is not given his due. There’s absolutely no other explanation for him not being as popular among the fanbase as Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal. Game-wise, he’s equally good or maybe even better.
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“One of the beauties of life is that life is not fair,” he continues. “Novak has worked out have to navigate being the third wheel from a public adoration standpoint. He has done that by proving that he is no third wheel from a capability standpoint.”
We will all agree with Todd Martin on some level. If there’s one player in the world who is under appreciated, it has to be Novak Djokovic. History will certainly be more respectful of the achievements of the great man.