Coach Reveals Novak Djokovic ‘Lacked Spark’ at the ATP Finals 2020

Published 11/28/2020, 9:54 AM EST
Russia’s Daniil Medvedev speaks with Serbia’s Novak Djokovic after winning their group stage match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Coach Marian Vajda has offered his take on why Novak Djokovic couldn’t finish the season on a high. Coming into the season-ending ATP Finals in London as the World Number 1, Djokovic failed to progress beyond the semifinals.


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Novak Djokovic extended title drought at ATP Finals to 5 years

The defeat extended his title-drought at the event to the fifth straight year. He also lost out on an opportunity to equal Pete Sampras for the most number of titles at the event.


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The Serb currently has five Tour Finals titles, just one shy of Sampras.

His coach said Djokovic lacked the ‘spark’ in his last-four defeat to reigning US Open champion Dominic ThiemThe coach added that it is also likely that his ward was short on motivation after clinching the year-end number one ranking.

Tennis – ATP Finals – The O2, London, Britain – November 20, 2020 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates during his group stage match against Germany’s Alexander Zverev REUTERS/Toby Melville

Djokovic achieved his sixth career year-end number one ranking this year, equaling Sampras’ record.

Djokovic may have run of motivation, says coach Marian Vajda

Speaking to, Vajda said, “Novak may not have had such motivation, as he practically secured the post of the end-of-year world unit at the tournament (Erste Bank Open) in Vienna.”

The Serb held a clear lead over Thiem in the deciding set of their semifinal tie before letting the Austrian back into the game. Thiem profited from Djokovic’s largesse, closing out the match to make his second straight final at the tournament.


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Touching on that, the Slovak coach said, “He led 4-0 over Dominic in the deciding set, but lacked (the) spark.”

Though he didn’t meet all his goals this season, the Serb did clinch his 17th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.

Russian champions in the first and last of the London leg of ATP Finals

He said it was, perhaps, symbolic that the first and final editions of the tournament in the British capital saw Russians emerge champions. Nikolay Davydenko had won the first Finals in London in 2009.

Eleven years on, rising star Daniil Medvedev has lifted the coveted trophy in the tournament’s concluding edition in the British capital. The tournament will move to Italy next year.

Tennis – ATP Finals – The O2, London, Britain – November 21, 2020 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic looks dejected after Austria’s Dominic Thiem wins their semi-final match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

“…so symbolic, because even the first London edition was won by a Russian- Nikolai Davydenko triumphed in England in 2009,” Vajda said.


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He said the London leg of the tournament has been memorable despite the hardships and changing optics on account of Covid this year.

“It was a beautiful 12 years in London, although the conditions were difficult, we were in a bubble,” the coach said.


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(Quotes have been translated via Google)

In keeping with Covid protocols, the tournament was played before empty stands this year.



Priyabrata Chowdhury

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Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.