Age – 33 (22 May 1987)
Height – 6’2″ (188cm)
Nationality – Serbia
Role – Right-Handed, Two-Handed Backhand (All-Around Player)
Coach – Marian Vajda, Goran Ivanisevic
Current Ranking – No. 1
Highest Ranking – No. 1 (4 July 2011)
Career Earnings – US$147,996,384
Win/Loss – 950/195
ATP Titles – 82
Grand Slams – 18
Best Finish at each Grand Slam
Australian Open: Champion (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020, 2021)
Roland Garros: Champion (2016)
Wimbledon: Champion (2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019)
US Open: Champion (2011, 2015, 2018)
Novak Djokovic broke onto the scene when he defeated two-time defending champion Roger Federer in the semifinals of the 2008 Australian Open. In the final, he defeated Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in four sets to win his first-ever Grand Slam, also ending Roger Federer’s and Rafael Nadal’s record of 11 consecutive Grand Slam wins between the pair of them.
Ever since then, Djokovic has cemented his place as a part of the “BIG 3” who have dominated men’s tennis for the last 15 years. With 18 Grand Slams and 82 ATP Titles, Djokovic is up there among the greatest players of all time. Although the discussion on who is the “G.O.A.T” is up for debate, his 17 Grand Slam wins in the last decade easily make him one of the best tennis players of this era.
Style of Play
Djokovic started off as a counter-punching player who waited for his opponents to commit a mistake, but his service game and his lean physique meant that he was susceptible to frequent injuries and burnouts during long games, as witnessed during the first five years of his career.
The major shift came in 2011, when Djokovic changed his approach to a more all-around game. He worked on his service, fitness, and more importantly, his return game, that made people label him as the best service returner in professional tennis.
Djokovic always had a good defence thanks to his earlier counter-punching playing style, but he added a consistent forehand which he uses patiently to construct points in his favour. His backhand, however, has become a game-changer, hitting the ball with a short backswing and an open stance. His crosscourt backhands often go deep and create an awkward angle for his opponents and his down-the-line backhand winner can change the dynamics of any point in a matter of seconds.
Born in Belgrade, Serbia, to parents Srđan and Dijana Đoković. Djokovic began playing tennis at the age of four when his parents sent him to a tennis camp in Novi Sad. In 1993, his parents sent him to a tennis camp organised by Teniski Klub Partizan and overseen by Jelena Genčić. Upon seeing young Djokovic play, she stated, “This is the greatest talent I have seen since Monica Seles.”
Genčić worked with Djokovic for six years before she contacted Nikola Pilić in 1999 and sent Djokovic to his academy in Oberschleißheim, Germany, where he spent four years. After turning pro in 2003, he forged a long-term partnership with coach Marian Vajda, who worked with him from 2006-2013, and again 2018 onwards. In those four years in between Vajda’s stint, Djokovic was coached by Boris Becker from 2014-2016 and Andre Agassi in 2017. The three years with Becker was regarded as his most productive period as he won six out of the possible 12 Grand Slams.
Djokovic is married to Jelena Ristic, whom he met in 2005, and the two of them got married in 2014. The couple has been blessed with two children – Stefan, born in 2014, and Tara, born in 2017. Djokovic also has two younger brothers – Marko and Djordje, both of whom played professional tennis, but never reached the heights of their elder brother.
Sponsors and Endorsements
Lacoste – French brand Lacoste contracted Novak Djokovic in May 2017 to sign a five-year deal as his clothing sponsors. The deal would see him earn around US$9.4 million each year till 2022. Lacoste have also hired him as their brand ambassador and provide him with supporting items during each tournament. All the items have Lacoste’s famous crocodile as well as Djokovic’s personal logo.
Head – Head and Djokovic have a long-running history. Novak has been playing with Head racquets since 2001, though in 2005, he switched to Wilson for a couple of seasons before switching back to Head in 2008. In May 2018, Head extended their contracts with Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic. Though the financial details of the deal were not revealed, according to reports, the deal is set to fetch them around US$7.5 million per year till 2023.
Asics – Just like racquets, shoes play a key role in deciding the outcome of a game, not wholly, but to some extent. In his early playing days, Djokovic formally signed a deal with Adidas in 2013; the deal ran till 2017. In 2018, Asics tied up Djokovic to a new deal and also made him their Global Footwear Partner by bringing out a new line of shoewear with his name (Novak Gel Resolution). According to many reports, the deal pays the Serb US$4 million/year.
Seiko – After endorsing Swiss watch company Piguet, in 2014, Novak Djokovic signed up with Japanese watch manufacturers Seiko on a three-year contract and later extended it to another three years. Djokovic earns US$5 million a year from the deal. Seiko gifted Djokovic the Astron GPS Solar watch and in 2020, released a limited edition watch by the name Seiko Astron Novak Djokovic 2020 Limited Edition.
Peugeot – French car manufacturers Peugeot roped in Novak Djokovic as an international ambassador on the eve of the 30th anniversary of their partnership with Roland Garros in 2014. The partnership lasted for three years, till 2017. After a gap of three years, during the 2020 Australian Open, Djokovic was again seen sporting a Peugeot logo on his shirt sleeves, though it is not clear whether it was a short-term deal or a long one. The deal was a commitment to promote a greener and sustainable environment.
Ultimate Kronos Group (UKG) – In April 2019, Djokovic announced officially on Facebook that he has joined hands with Ultimate as a brand ambassador, but the details of the deal and its duration were not made clear. Their logo appeared for the first time during the 2019 Australian Open. In August 2020, Ultimate Software and Kronos Incorporated merged and rebranded themselves to form Ultimate Kronos Group.
Adidas – Since turning professional in 2003, Djokovic has been wearing Adidas clothing and footwear to every tournament. In 2009, when it was time for contract renewal talks, Djokovic was demanding too much of an increase in his contract, and Adidas was simply not ready to meet his demands. At the same time, Andy Murray was on the ascendency and equal or comparable to Djokovic in terms of ranking and titles, so, Adidas decided to extend Murray’s contract, leaving Djokovic without any kit sponsors. Sergio Tacchini came in and signed up with the Serbian in a 10-year deal, but, they were not shoe manufacturers, so Djokovic continued playing with Adidas footwear, before signing a 5-year year with Adidas in 2013.
Sergio Tacchini – Djokovic left Adidas in 2009 and switched to Sergio Tacchini, a brand that his idols Pete Sampras and John McEnroe wore in their hay days. Djokovic and Sergio Tacchini agreed on a long-term 10-year deal, but the deal was abruptly terminated three years into its tenure. The small company couldn’t handle Djokovic’s success on the court. Signed on a small guarantee, Tacchini offered bigger incentives if Djokovic performed well, but after his record-breaking season in 2011, where the Serbian won three Grand Slams, his fifth Masters title and stayed as the World No. 1 for 11 consecutive months, the company fell behind on payments to the star and, subsequently, the contract was mutually terminated in 2012.
Uniqlo – After mutually cutting off ties with Sergio Tacchini in 2012, Djokovic signed a five-year sponsorship deal with Japanese clothing and sporting equipment manufacturer, Uniqlo. In launching their new partnership with Novak Djokovic, Uniqlo confirmed that their first corporate social responsibility was to manufacture a custom-designed charity T-shirt to sell at different stores and online, the sales of which were donated to Djokovic’s foundation to support children’s programs. However, the Japanese manufacturer didn’t offer a contract extension to Djokovic, as he was deemed not as marketable as the likes of Roger Federer, whom they later signed in 2018.
ANZ – Australia & New Zealand Banking – In early 2015, before the Australian Open kicked off, Djokovic joined hands with ANZ Banking Group to run a social media campaign. The campaign was aimed at collecting charity for Asia Pacific region countries and was the special philanthropy work of Novak Djokovic. The campaign was able to collect US$1,000,000, which ran through to the 2020 Australian Open.
Jacob’s Creek – Novak Djokovic endorsed the Australian winemakers during the 2015 Australian Open. The sponsorship was aimed at describing his untold life story through a documentary film “Made By Moments” that showed his rise to becoming a champion today.
Mercedes-Benz – German car manufacturers Mercedes-Benz tied down Djokovic to a deal that paid in millions and appointed him as a brand ambassador in September 2011. The World No. 1 was appointed as their ambassador in Serbia and Montenegro and named as No1e (Nole) by Mercedes in the signing ceremony.
- In 2005, as he moved up the ranking ladder, Djokovic began venturing into the business world. Most of his activities are channelled through Family Sport, a legal entity in Serbia, run by his family members. Family Sport initially focused on hospitality and restaurant businesses, launching the Novak Café & Restaurant, a franchise themed on Djokovic’s success.
- In 2009, the company bought a 250-series ATP tournament known as the Dutch Open and moved it to Serbia, where it was renamed the Serbia Open. After a four-year stint, the tournament folded due to lack of sponsorship funding and low interest from major tennis players.
- In 2015, after winning his fourth ATP Rome Masters title, Djokovic launched a line of nutrition products, called
- In April 2016, while in town for the Monte-Carlo Masters, Djokovic opened a vegan restaurant called Eqvita, but the restaurant reportedly folded by 2019.
- Djokovic has ended the year as World No. 1 a record six times.
- He has been the World No. 1 for a record 320 weeks.
- Only player in tennis history to hold all four Major titles on three different surfaces at once.
- The only player to win all ATP Tour Elite Tournaments.
- He has won five ATP Tour Finals, four of which came consecutively (2012-2015) – a record.
- In 2015, he won three Grand Slams, six Masters titles, played in the finals of all Elite Tournaments, and defeated Top 10 players 31 times in a year, all of which are standalone records.
- The only player to achieve the “Career Golden Masters” (2018).
- Djokovic played in 18 consecutive top-tiers finals in a season, which is a record.
- He has won 36 ATP Masters Titles, only recently equalled by Rafael Nadal.
- Djokovic holds the record for the most ATP Ranking points, a total of 16,950 points, which was more than that of World No. 2 and 3 combined.
- The only player to defeat Nadal in all three clay-court masters events.
- He has won the Australian Open a record nine times.
- The only player to complete an Elite Title Sweep, winning all 14 events.
- The only player with Nadal to win a Grand Slam title in three different decades.
- The only player to complete a “Double Career Golden Masters” (2020).
- Has the record of most consecutive wins (43).
Rivalry and Legacy
Djokovic has a winning head-to-head record against some of his biggest rivals. In his early playing days, Djokovic suffered humiliation at the hands of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. However, from 2011 onwards, the Serbian has dramatically changed the dynamics and now holds the upper hand against two of the greatest players in the game.
There has never been an era in which three of the greatest-of-all-time candidates battled it out on court at the same time, but the fact that he has won so many titles playing in the same era and sits only two behind their record haul of 20 Grand Slam titles is a testament to Djokovic’s sheer grit and determination to be the best in the world.
Before 2011, Djokovic had a 10-22 head-to-head record against Federer, while an even worse 7-16 records against the mighty Spaniard, Nadal. Since 2011, after completely changing his style of play and adding that mental game that he lacked previously, Djokovic has gone on to establish a 22-10 record against Federer and a 22-12 record against Nadal. Amazingly, Djokovic beat Nadal in seven consecutive finals from the 2011 Indian Wells Open to 2012 Australian Open and again repeated the streak in 2015.
After their gruelling 5 hours 53 minutes final in the 2012 Australian Open, where Djokovic defeated Nadal in a true war of attrition. Nadal was heard in an interview saying, “Novak Djokovic is my problem, not my game, not the previous year.” While Djokovic too acknowledged their rivalry after losing the 2019 Roland Garros final to Nadal – “For me, he is my greatest rival of all time.”
With age and fitness still on his side and the likes of Federer touching 40 and Nadal entering the twilight of his career, Djokovic still has a few years left in him to dominate the tennis world and make an outright bid to be the greatest of all time.
Notable Charity Work
- In 2007, Djokovic founded the Novak Djokovic Foundation. The organisation aims to help children from disadvantaged communities to grow up and develop in stimulating and safe environments. His foundation has so far built 43 schools and provided support to almost 20,000 children and thousands of families.
- In 2011, he participated in a couple of charity matches to raise funds for the reconstruction of the Avala Tower, as well as for the victims of the Haiti Earthquake and Queensland floods.
- In 2012, he was awarded the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year for his contributions through his foundation, his role as a UNICEF National ambassador and other charitable projects.
- After winning the 2014 Rome Masters, Djokovic donated his prize money to the flood victims in Serbia.
- In 2015, his foundation partnered with the World Bank to promote early childhood education in Serbia, while he was also appointed as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
- In 2016, following his Australian Open victory, Djokovic donated US$20,000 to Melbourne City’s Mission Early childhood education program to help disadvantaged children.
- After the Covid pandemic spread to Serbia in 2020, Djokovic and his wife announced that they would donate €1 million for the purchase of ventilators and medical equipment to support hospitals and other medical institutions in the country.
- Djokovic also extended his helping hand to Bergamo, one of the worst-affected provinces in Italy, as well as to Novi Pazar in Serbia and Kosovska Mitrovica in Kosovo.