Novak Djokovic says his wife and children will always take precedence over his tennis career, but for now he still has their full support and remains hungry and motivated to break records.
The 21-time Grand Slam winner ended his mini drought at the ATP Finals as he won his first title in seven years by defeating Casper Ruud in Sunday’s final. It was a record-equalling title as he drew level with Roger Federer on six while he also collected the biggest cheque in tennis history as he walked away with $4.7m for being undefeated in Turin.
The 35-year-old also claimed his 91st ATP Tour singles title and looks like he will add more to the tally as he still has a good few years left before he eventually calls it a day.
While some players may have their retirements planned down to the tee, Djokovic is not one of them.
“There is no end zone, as they call it in American football. I don’t feel I have thoughts or ideas about how I want to end my career in terms of when I want to end it, if that’s an answer for you,” he said.
“If I had something on my mind, I would share it with you, saying, Okay, this is what I’m navigating towards, and when I do that, I’ll leave the racket. I don’t have that.”
He added: “That’s for me the most important thing. If that’s something that is fading away or I’m not feeling that passion or love for the game as much in terms of competition, because I feel like the love for the tennis will never fade away, it will always stay there. So I will always stay in tennis in whatever shape, form or role.”
His wife Jelena and two children Stefan and Tara attended his matches in Turin and they will always be number one when it comes his time and attention.
“Competition is something different. Professional competitive career requires a lot of sacrifice with family and all the other things in life,” he said.
Djokovic continued: “For that, it’s necessary to have the support of the close ones, to have the right balance, to figure out optimally what works the best so that you can still continue playing tennis. Right now things are functioning well on that end for me. But you never know what’s going to happen.
“My kids are eight and five. They’re growing older. They’ll have different interests. Maybe they’ll have a different requirements or demands from me. I have to think about them. If I have to spend more time with them or support them in their lives, maybe less with tennis, that’s going to happen.”
Djokovic is one title behind Rafael Nadal’s record 22 Grand Slams while he is also 18 shy of Jimmy Connors’ record of 109 ATP singles trophies.
He already has countless of records to his name, but there are still things left to achieve.
“I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that what I hold in my mind is a huge hunger still to win trophies, make history of this sport, compete on the highest level all around the world, bring good emotions to sports fans, tennis fans,” he said.
“That’s what drives me a lot. I have a lot of different motivational factors, and I don’t lack any motivation for the moment. Of course, we all have bad days or bad weeks. But generally the feel is still there.”