Ivanisevic on Djokovic: 'He's ready for best-of-10 sets if needed'

 - Dan Imhoff

Coach previews his charge's 59th showdown with Nadal

Goran Ivanisevic, Novak Djokovic, Roland-Garros 2022, EntrainementCorinne Dubreuil / FFT

Milestones rarely stay fixed for any great stretch these days if Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal has any say.

While Goran Ivanisevic never ceases to be in awe of each passing feat, he has learnt to be less surprised in time.

On Tuesday night, the two square off for the 59th time on Court Philippe-Chatrier, under lights for the second year running.

They have not crossed paths since Djokovic claimed the honours in that blockbuster semi-final en route to his 19th Grand Slam trophy 12 months ago.

“It's a dream for spectators, for the coaches not really,” Ivanisevic said. “It's going to be great. Let's say it's the best quarter-final ever for Roland-Garros, for me – a night match, they're both ready, they're both fit and we'll see what's going to happen.

“They’ve played 58 times, so they know each other. They've played here so many times, they know what each other brings. I don't think there's too many secrets between these two guys.

Goran Ivanisevic, Novak Djokovic, Roland-Garros 2022, EntrainementCorinne Dubreuil / FFT

“In the end when they step on the court, I'm only one of the spectators tomorrow there who is supporting and clapping.”

Ivanisevic assumed sole coaching duties of the Serbian after long-time co-coach Marian Vajda confirmed his departure from the team last month.

Djokovic made a tentative return to the tour in Dubai, before battling illness.

Down on confidence and matches, it made for an inauspicious start to the clay-court swing with an early exit in Monte-Carlo and four straight three-set struggles in Belgrade, including a final defeat to Andrey Rublev.
Still it was a step in the right direction. A Madrid semi-final ensued before he romped to a sixth Rome title.

“It was not easy. After Monte-Carlo a lot of things happened. People like him, these genius people they have different brains,” Ivanisevic said. “It was not easy I have to say and hopefully things are okay after Monte-Carlo.

“Belgrade was better and Madrid was even better. Rome was perfect and was important for him to come here as No.1 in the world, No.1 seed.

“So far he's playing well, hitting the ball well. He's ready. Rafa's ready, so we will see.”

While the pair finished level with Roger Federer’s all-time mark of 20 majors at season’s end, Nadal further raised the bar with an against-the-odds triumph at Melbourne Park in January.

It only served to fuel Djokovic’s motivation; that drive to wrest sole ownership of a once unfathomable tally, as high as before.

“He's ready for best of 10, if they played 10 sets tomorrow,” Ivanisevic joked.

The ledger between Djokovic and arguably his toughest opponent sits at 30-28 in the Serbian’s favour.

The most prolific rivalry of the Open Era will add another chapter with a semi-final berth on the line.

“They push each other. These two are unbelievable,” Ivanisevic said. “Especially I'm talking about Novak. He's taking care of his body, his body is unbelievable.”

There was a word of warning that further milestones were unlikely safe for long.

“He can still play a few more years at the top level yet,” he concluded.

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roland Garros 2014, Simple Messieurs, FinaleCorinne Dubreuil / FFT