Novak Djokovic has vowed never to let pressure ‘wear him down’ as the mental health struggles of young athletes comes into focus.
Gymnast Simone Biles has withdrawn from two events in Tokyo now, saying the spotlight is affecting her mental health and she needs to take a step back.
It follows a similar stance by Naomi Osaka at the French Open and Wimbledon, but Djokovic believes he now has enough experience to cope with the pressure.
“Pressure is a privilege,” Djokovic said. “Without pressure there is no professional sport.
“If you are aiming to be at the top of the game, you better start learning how to deal with pressure and how to cope with those moments – on the court but also off the court.
“All that buzz and all that noise is the thing that, I can’t say I don’t see it or I don’t hear it, of course it’s there.
“But I’ve learned, I’ve developed the mechanism how to deal with it in such a way that it will not impose destruction to me. It will not wear me down.
“I feel I have enough experience to know myself how to step on the court and play my best tennis.”
Even despite that experience, Djokovic says he can relate to the pressures others are now feeling.
“Rio was [a] very tough loss for me,” he recalled.
“I came into Rio as also a big favourite, winning four out of last five Grand Slams, number one in the world.
“So I know that feeling; it’s kind of a similar feeling now. But I’m a more experienced player; I know mentally what I need to do and how to work things around on and off the court in order to feel the best that I possible can feel.”
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