Novak Djokovic Captures the French Open and a 23rd Grand Slam Title

Maybe it was his new, gluten-free diet, or forsaking alcohol, or the time spent in a pressurized chamber. Maybe it was the stretching and calisthenics routine that turned Djokovic into a racket-wielding rubber band and has him “still moving like a cat,” as his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, said Sunday evening.

The boulder-sized chip on his shoulder, which Djokovic has said he has carried since growing up during the war in Serbia, hasn’t hurt either.

Ivanisevic, a Croat, has described a Balkan fighting spirit in Djokovic’s DNA that no one who has come from outside the region can match in the biggest matches.

Boris Becker, the retired German champion who coached him for three years, has said that Djokovic needed to stop punishing himself for an indiscretion that neither Djokovic nor Becker has ever talked about in detail. Once he did that, Becker said, he became liberated, and began winning with abandon.

The numbers since then defy simple explanation. With his win Sunday, Djokovic regained the world’s top ranking for a record 388th week. In addition to the record for Grand Slam tournament titles, he also holds the record for Masters 1000 titles. In case any Nadal or Federer fans want to fault him for being a mere compiler, Djokovic has a winning record against both of them.

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