Patience will solve Djokovic’s slump, says mental conditioning coach

Noted mental conditioning coach Badri Narayan of Quantum Leap Performance (QLP), who has worked with various international tennis players and athletes in the past, says it is just a matter of time before Djokovic bounces back.

Novak Djokovic, in his latest loss, looked at bay against Kyle Edmund in the round-of-32 at the Madrid Open on Wednesday.   -  Getty Images

Former World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is probably at the lowest point of his career. After an elbow injury sidelined him in the later half of 2017, the Serb's return to tennis hasn’t been a memorable one.

Early losses in tournaments meant Djokovic had to frequent the drawing board. The Serb, in his latest loss, looked at bay against Kyle Edmund in the round-of-32 at the Madrid Open on Wednesday.

Noted mental conditioning coach Badri Narayan of Quantum Leap Performance (QLP), who has worked with various international tennis players and athletes in the past, said it is just a matter of time before Djokovic bounces back. “Coming back after an injury, that sidelined him for six months, is never easy. Every tennis player, at some point in his career, goes through a slump. Being the champion that Novak is, I am sure he is working hard mentally and physically to get back to his best. He has had one of best runs from 2012 to 2016 losing only a handful of matches. It is tough to keep up that level and at some point took a toll on his body and of course on the mind,” Badri noted.

 

“He is a 12-time Grand Slam champion and knows what it takes to be the best he can be. He is doing all the right things and taking qualitative steps to get back to his best. He is patient and mindful in this journey. As hard as it is, he is keeping a quality perspective and is embracing the struggle. He is doing everything within his control to get back at the level he is capable of,” he added.

Badri added that the key for Djokovic, at this point, would be to focus on the process. “The main aspect is to not get too attached to the results and obsess with the winning part. This creates desperation and it will affect the clarity of thoughts. The best solution is to continue to work hard and focus on the process,” he said.

“Champions pay attention to the details and as clichéd as this sounds, it is about getting back to the process basics. Be in the present and focus on the ball and breathe. When mistakes happen, some active visualization techniques to focus on will not complicate things. They have done it before, it is about getting back to the fundamentals. Drills & Rinse and Repeat,” Badri explained.

The mental conditioning coach hopes that Djokovic’s combination with coach Marian Vajda can work out. “Sometimes you need a different voice to rekindle the fire that made you the best player in the player. Andre and Radek did their best to help Nole. Unfortunately, it didn't work out but that's the nature of the sport. Some coaching methods work and some doubt. One has got to keep searching and trying till the right combination strikes. Now he is back with Vajda and we will see how this combination works out,” he said.

Badri also pointed out that there was nothing in Djokovic's game that is a cause for concern. “I don't think he is doing too much wrong. He needs more matches and his elbow/shoulder need to go through the match grind and see how it responds in big moments. He is making more mistakes than what he used to which can be attributed to the elbow issues he had and just the wear and tear of physical tennis. I think with more matches and qualitative recovery, he should be back at his best. But, it will take time and he should have enough patience to solve this problem,” Badri concluded.