Novak Djokovic has just won his 16th grand slam by winning his 5th Wimbledon. What a match, what drama, what character, what tenacity and what resilience. Not only was he facing the best grass-court player of all time but he was also facing a crowd in which the only camp supporting him was his. On top of this he hit fewer winners, fewer aces, had lesser breakpoints, faced a couple of match points and still eked out a magnificent victory that will be the stuff of folklore. To me he has joined the pantheon of all time greats with this victory. If ever there was a doubt whether he should be at the same table as Federer and Nadal that has been put to rest forever. This is an amazing feat considering the quality of the opposition he had. People had written him off for the last few years. What makes him a true champion is how he has bounced back in-spite of his critics.
Djokovic said this after the match “It was one shot away from losing the match. It could have gone easily his way.” More importantly he said “I just try to never lose self-belief, just stay calm, just focus on trying to get the ball back, return, which wasn’t serving me very well today.” This basically shows his deep self-awareness and how he overcomes moments where he has to go for broke to stay in the match.
He made history by winning the 2016 French open and became the first person since Rod Laver to hold four grand slams at the same time. That was an amazing feat. Considering that super stars like Federer, Nadal, Sampras and Agassi have not been able to do that this is beyond comprehension and a testament to the champion in Novak.
I remember watching him in the 2007 US Open Final against Federer which he lost and thought this guy has a lot of talent but does he have the heart to survive the onslaught from Federer and Nadal? Well he has proved beyond doubt what it takes to be a champion. I have expanded his name Novak with the champion qualities he displays. Here they are
N — Never Say Die Spirit –Not since Jimmy Connors have we seen a fighter like Novak. His amazing victory over Federer in a US Open Semifinal where he came back from match point down to win was nothing short of sensational. In fact Federer said after the match that he would never have hit that shot if he was match point down. Well that’s what makes Novak special. He gives his best when the chips are down which is the true hallmark of a champion. I would say he has braved the wilderness in the last 2 years and come back strong.
Lesson: Never give up when the chips are down.
O – Optimism– Of course if you are going to go against the best you have to be optimistic about your abilities. Imagine meeting Federer when he was at his peak but think about facing Nadal at the same time. This would be insurmountable for most people but not Novak. He just kept getting better and put so much effort into conditioning it’s not funny. Champions do what the rest of the population won’t do to achieve what they cannot.
Lesson: Believe in your talent and show case your best self at all times. Do whatever you need to be the best in whatever you do.
V – Victory– Novak is one person who believes in victory at all costs but when he does lose he exhibits a cool exterior. He obviously wants to make history and despite failing in numerous French open campaigns in the past he didn’t give up on his 2016 campaign. Victory at all costs is his motto and victory whenever the chips are down is his example. He perseveres all the time and obviously ignores the critics. This came at an opportune moment for him and could be the second wind he needed for his career.
Lesson: Begin with the End in Mind and plan for ultimate victory.
A – Attitude — Even all champions lose and I think Novak has lost a lot of Grand Slam finals. He could have easily sulked but he didn’t do that and kept proceeding in the direction of his goals. I can’t imagine how you would feel when you lose many grand slam finals. We would easily think maybe this is not meant for us but not Novak. See champions don’t relate things and think that if I lose here it’s not meant for me. That is the key lesson we need to learn. Nothing is related to anything but it is the meaning that we give that event that makes all the difference. Of course it is the attitude that matters.
Lesson: You will always get another chance if you have the right attitude.
K – Kool– What I mean by this he doesn’t always have the crowd support. Remember the times in the US Open especially early in his career when he was booed many times but he never let that distract from his final victories. He kept a cool head and came through all criticism and the rest is history. Yes he has lost his cool at times but I think in the larger scheme of things he has maintained a calm demeanor which has helped him achieve the pinnacle in a sport where the only thing that matters is the next victory.
Lesson: Be cool in the midst of a storm.
There you have it the 5 qualities that make Novak Djokovic the champion that he is. He is probably got some more grand slams in him and hope we see this champion for a number of years to come. He is a true champion in every sense of the word.
The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.