Novak Djokovic’s secret weapon shows Andrey Rublev what he’s missing

know all about Novak Djokovikmovement, the textbook backhand and that scary mindset Always Give feedback during critical points. But at 35 and with 21 Grand Slam wins, there is a subtlety to his game, a subtle adjustment to underline his relentless desire to try and improve, squeezing the last drop of potential out of an extraordinary career.

unimportant to many watching, but Djokovic’s second serve in his straight sets Australian Open quarter final win Andrey Rublev Showed how difficult it can be to expose the Serbian’s vulnerable side.

In fact, Djokovic’s second serve was shining brightly in this contest for over two hours. Revenge with added threat at key moments in the match, but directed with extreme control in other phases, enough to torment opponents.

The Russian could be seen in the crowd shouting at both himself and his team when Djokovic dialed up an unexpected and audacious second-serve game.

Rublev actually landed slightly more first serves (70 percent) than Djokovic (64 percent), but won just 61 percent compared to the Serbian’s 80 percent. Yet the intriguing factor in the game is how Djokovic rarely flinched when Plan A, dictated by each player’s ideal first serve, eluded him.

Djokovic won 50 percent of his serve points on his second serve point, illustrating the difficulty of breaking – there were only three such occurrences in the entire tournament. His win rate on second serve was nearly 78 percent higher than Rublev’s, who boasts an attractive game built behind the rocket of a forehand.

“The first two sets don’t speak to the reality of the match,” admitted Djokovic. “We had some close games, Andrey is a great opponent and a great player, with one of the biggest forehands and one of the fastest players on tour.

“All the important shots and moments, I found my best tennis, it makes me very happy.”

It was a compliment on Djokovic’s part, yet it also highlighted a lack of variety in Rublev’s game, which was evident when you delved a little deeper into those second serves.

Djokovic’s range troubles opponents with a speed of 66 kmph between his slowest and fastest second serve, a difference of 27 kmph over Rublev’s, ensuring better timing than the Russian.


slowest second service

average second service

fastest second service

Novak Djokovik

133 kmph

167 kmph

169 kmph

Andrey Rublev

130 kmph

148 kmph

196 kmph

Djokovic has taken years to perfect this part of the game, with former strategy coach Craig O’Shainsey emphasizing it as part of his tactical repertoire.

Especially coming from behind at the US Open in 2018, Djokovic enjoys precision, which allows him to target specific parts of his opponent’s return game.

This secret weapon shows Rublev what it takes to make that leap from a top-five player in the world with three career titles to breaking that quarterfinal barrier at Grand Slams, taking his career to a maiden Slam at seven. The way is blocked. opportunity already.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates


Djokovic leaned on that second serve in the fourth game of the second set, trailing 2–1, forcing an error from his opponent to level the contest. This would break Rublev mentally and lead to a decisive break in the next game, before Djokovic took a two-set lead.

Despite the uproar over Djokovic’s left hamstring injury, his conditioning has looked impeccable against both Rublev and Alex de Minaur. And the way he carries himself during the competition shows in his service game. There is always enough gas in the tank to accelerate and take down your opponents on any level.

If Rublev was concentrating on serving, Djokovic disrupted his flow and slammed the door on any possible comeback in the third set, hitting a new match-high 204 kph, just 4 off Rublev’s best. km per hour less.

Russia’s Andrey Rublev reacts to defeat

(AFP via Getty Images)

Rublev must evolve if he is to emerge at the front of the queue when Djokovic and Rafael Nadal finally ride off into the sunset.

His work in the forecourt proved particularly costly as the match began in the third set.

The way he lofts his forehand is an impressive sight, but the depth to which he can improve has been illustrated by Djokovic heading into his 19th Grand Slam season. Djokovic has never looked so perfect.