Melbourne, January 21: Novak Djokovic says meditating has helped him overcome fear and stress that comes with playing elite tennis. The 12-time Grand Slam champion, 30, says he often turned to the practice during his long spell out of the game last year with elbow trouble.
The Serb former world No. 1 is playing in his first tournament since Wimbledon in July and he has a brand new support team, headed by eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi as coach. Djokovic said after reaching the fourth round of the year's opening Grand Slam on Saturday that he now meditates on a daily basis.
"Yes, I do. I'll tell you what. I don't want to tell you what I gain with it, but I'll tell what I lose with it," he said. "I lose fear. I lose anxiety. I lose stress. I guess, in the end of the day, that's what you're looking for."
Djokovic has become involved in meticulous off-the-court preparation in recent years. He has a strict, gluten-free diet and is an advocate for well-being. The new year has given him the opportunity to analyse aspects of his game and preparation.
"When it comes to tennis, I obviously was excited to analyze my game," he said. "First of all, I wanted to get the right team of people around me, experts in their field, so they can contribute to the process and the journey of working on my body and my game.
"Improving different aspects that are there to be worked on. Thankfully there is always something to work on."
Djokovic said apart from tennis he has always looked at ways to improve himself, which he terms his "philosophy of life".
"It has always been, not just for tennis, but in general there's always something that you can improve and get better at as a person and as a player," he said.
"That's probably the most exciting thing about life, is that every day is a new opportunity for you to get better." Djokovic faces South Korea's "NextGen" star Chung Hyeon in Monday's round of 16.