Novak Djokovic might be a player that drives fear into the heart of his opponents, but the Serbian insists he is not the Halloween boogeyman of the tennis tour.
As he prepares for a title defense at the Paris Masters, the 21-time grand slam winner is naturally out to put the frighteners up his rivals.
But when asked on Sunday whether he was “the monster of tennis,” because of his strong track record against the cream of the sport, Djokovic had to smile and laugh it off.
“The monster? I don’t know the significance of that word in your language, but in mine it is not really the best,” he said in a press conference.
“I prefer not to be the monster of the tennis. But yeah, the record against pretty much all the top players is positive, which is great.
“We played so many tournaments throughout the year and throughout our careers, and some of us have been there more than some of the younger players. So playing more matches helps, I think, to know how to approach every next big challenge when you play one of your top rivals.
“I have managed to do well throughout my career, which is great, which is something that I always intended to do.”
Djokovic earned a 27-23 win-loss record in his favor against Roger Federer and he leads Rafael Nadal 30-29 and is 25-11 up on Andy Murray across their tour careers.
He has lost his lone meeting with new world number one Carlos Alcaraz, which came on clay in the Madrid semi-finals earlier this year, and there could be more such clashes during the final years of Djokovic’s career.
At the age of 35, Djokovic remains a force to be reckoned with. He gets a first-round bye in Paris and will face Maxime Cressy or Diego Schwartzman in his opening match
The world number seven has won his last three singles tournaments, with a triumph at Wimbledon followed by titles at Tel Aviv and Astana.
Djokovic has six Paris Masters titles, the joint-most he has managed at any of the ATP 1,000 events, level with his haul from Miami and the Internazionali d’Italia.
His ranking is unusually low, and that can to a large extent be attributed to him being prevented from playing icon Australia and North America this season, due to his refusal to vaccinate against SARS-CoV-2.
Djokovic also suffered from Wimbledon being stripped of ranking points amid the Ukraine crisis, meaning that despite successfully defending his title at the All England Club, he lost the 2,000 ranking points he collected at the grand slam in the 2021 season.
He said his experience after being banished from Australia in January was “challenging.”
“It was a completely new experience for me,” Djokovic added. “Unfortunately not a great one but still a life experience, and a possibility for me to grow stronger out of that.”