Let loose in a fantasy laboratory, how would Novak Djokovic build the ultimate tennis player?
Let’s start with shots. The first needs little thought. Nadal. The Spaniard uses one of the most feared forehands in the game as a “consistent weapon” not just to “create pressure on the opponent, but also, to defend well.”
He hesitates over the vast choice of backhands in front of him. “I would probably… go to… David Goffin… He’s pretty flat, which means that he likes to take the ball quite early, which allows him then to dictate the play.”
There’s an obvious section of his laboratory for volleys: “one of the doubles guys”. He selects Nicholas Mahut for his “really, really good hands.”
And now for the serve. Djokovic chooses Australia’s Nick Kyrgios for his “very natural motion” and that he is “very dynamic, very hard to read.”
And for the return? Can Djokovic resist adding a little bit of himself to the perfect player? “Can I say myself? I guess myself, yeah.” You go for it, Novak. You deserve it.
But the perfect player doesn’t just need technical ability.
He would have the joint talents of Canadian youngsters Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov, who are “very professional, very dedicated… nice guys off the court as well.”
He wants Gael Monfils’ athleticism. “He can do splits, he can slide, he can jump” (so can you, Novak), and would combine this with Nadal’s mentality: “Because of his never give up always fighting spirit.”
And finally, our perfect player needs perfect footwork. It’s not just movement that counts, but “lightness of feet.” He needs his player to have the “ability to change direction and be always… in balance for the next shot.” So, he mixes a bit of Goffin, Nadal, Alliasime and, of course, Novak Djokovic.
See the whole interview here.