Djokovic praises Prizmach: “I felt like I was playing with myself” | ATP Tour


Djokovic praises Prizmic: ‘I felt like I was playing with myself’

The Serbian played the longest first round of his career.

January 14, 2024

Novak Djokovic greets Dino Prizmic at the gate after the pairs match at the Australian Open.

William West/AFP via Getty Images

Novak Djokovic greets Dino Prizmic at the gate after the pairs match at the Australian Open.
Author: staff

Novak Djokovic needed more than four hours to familiarize himself with Dino Prizmic’s play on Sunday at the Australian Open.

The world number 1 liked what he saw.

“I love the way he uses every inch of the court. “He feels comfortable, he defends incredibly well,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview after defeating the #NextGenATP Croatian in the longest first-round match of his career. “Just an incredible performance for someone who is 18 years old and has never had any experience playing on a big stage.”

“Big congratulations to him and his team and I certainly want to be in his corner, so I hope he invites me because he’s going to do great things in his career.”

Djokovic maintained his perfect Major qualifying record (25 wins from 25) by defeating Prizmic in four sets at Rod Laver Arena. However, he was not entirely surprised by the level his 18-year-old opponent showed in his Grand Slam main draw debut.

“I had an incredible opponent tonight,” Djokovic later recalled in his post-match press conference. “For an 18-year-old, he played on the court with such maturity and confidence, fighting and not giving up even when he was four down in the fourth set. “I’m impressed with his mentality, his approach, his play.”

“I hear a lot of positive stories about his discipline, his dedication to everyday life, which makes him physically strong and successful at 18 years old. If he continues like this, he will undoubtedly have a very bright career ahead of him.”

Dino Prizmic impressed in his Grand Slam debut against Novak Djokovic.
Dino Prizmic making his Grand Slam debut against Novak Djokovic. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Djokovic now has a 90-8 record at the Australian Open, where he hopes to extend his record with an 11th title this year. The 36-year-old feels his stellar track record on the hard courts at Melbourne Park can sometimes influence his opponents, although that influence goes far.

“I think it’s probably most useful early in the match,” Djokovic said. “Like today, he made a few double faults in the first game. I broke his service. You could tell he was nervous. I think it really helps make your presence on set even more noticeable in the beginning.”

“When they talk about achievements, scores and everything that you have essentially achieved in this tournament, I think the players can’t help but hear it, feel it, especially a young player like him.”

“I don’t think the achievements here really help win the game, but they do help in the beginning to maybe get off to a good start. “Tonight was not what won the game for me.”

Despite a shaky start, Prizmik soon found his footing in his first match at Rod Laver Arena. As the Croatian improved his level, Djokovic felt a strange familiarity with his opponent’s game.

“In the second set I played a weak game. I gave him a break. I broke down again, but I felt like he was starting to feel more comfortable and wasn’t losing as much,” Djokovic said. “There were some grueling exchanges, very physical games. Almost four hours over four sets. At some point it seemed to me that I was playing with myself in the mirror.”

“I heard that he liked to watch me when he was a child. He has incredible defense, especially on the backhand. He has a very complete game. Of course, he has every chance to improve. I’m 18 years old and I think what impresses me the most is his physical condition. “His legs are very strong and strong.”

“And also the mentality. He went out there not wanting to play a good set or enjoy the experience, but wanting to win. Congratulations to him. It was impressive.”

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