Novak Djokovic is ready to repeat at the U.S. Open. The top-ranked tennis player in the world comes into the tournament as the reigning champion, and this year he’s looking stronger than ever, having already won the Wimbledon and the Australian Open titles this season.
If he comes out on top at the U.S. Open again, it would be his fourth-career championship at the tournament and his 17th overall win at a major. That would put him just one major win behind Rafael Nadal and three behind Roger Federer on the all-time list. As much as that’s motivation for Djokovic, he’s also just as excited to play in front of the fans in New York City once again.
“Being here is different than any other place in the world for tennis,” Djokovic told Men’s Journal. “The enthusiasm of the fans energizes you as a player. The atmosphere during the entire tournament is unique and it’s something I look forward to every year. I especially enjoy the night sessions here.”
While in New York City for the tournament, Djokovic also announced a partnership between Montblanc and his Novak Djokovic Foundation, which supports educational programs for kids around the world. As part of the partnership, Montblanc created a StarWalker special edition Fineliner writing instrument and notebook, and proceeds from the sales will benefit the foundation.
“Both my wife and I have been using Montblanc writing instruments for years and I love the roller,” Djokovic said. “That’s my favorite. And my wife has a huge collection of a lot of Montblanc writing instruments, so when we established the first interaction and communication with Montblanc we were both very excited and we were very happy that Montblanc recognized the mission and a vision of our foundation and what we have achieved so far in the last ten years. That’s how the partnership came about because Montblanc has been very active in supporting worldwide education programs, and so our foundation is the platform and sort of central to channel through which Montblanc as an institution can support education around the world.”
The StarWalker special edition Fineliner collection comes with a matching notebook and is personalized with Novak Djokovic’s signature. The collection will be available exclusively at Montblanc Boutiques in New York City, London, and Paris and through US, UK, FR online boutiques. Find out more here and how to purchase the pen.
Djokovic spoke with Men’s Journal about why he loves playing at the U.S. Open, how he trains, his plant-based diet, and more.
What do you enjoy most about playing in the U.S. Open and in New York?
People come from all over the United States to see the U.S. Open and the people who come are so excited and so into it, and they give so much energy. Now with the new roof and the stadium, it’s the biggest tennis stadium in the world and it gets very loud. It’s a completely different atmosphere and the opposite of what usually happens at tournaments. But you accept it because it’s a trademark and that’s what sets it apart, the energy of the fans and New York itself. It’s the signature of the U.S. Open and I like it. It motivates me and pushes me to play my best, because these fans are some of the greatest anywhere in tennis.
What are some of your favorite ways to train for tennis off of the court?
I like to play different sports. Of course, I do my conditioning and fitness training, and all the stuff that later will translate to the tennis court, but I enjoy doing things away from the tennis court. Everything we do off the court relates to what I need to do on the court in some way. I really like doing different things in nature to stay fit, whether that’s hiking, or kayaking, or cycling or going for a jog in the park. Like when I’m in New York, you can go to Central Park and have a run. But for me, doing those things brings a joyful feeling for me and also allows me to stay in shape and work out. In a way, it helps me train without me feeling like I’m working out, which is fun.
In the past, you’ve spoken about following a gluten-free diet. How has that helped you and what else do you do in your diet to stay in shape?
I’m still gluten-free now and it’s helped me a lot. I also have been on a plant-based diet for the last four years and I am really happy about it. I keep a gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free diet and I introduced those changes to my nutrition back in 2010. I’ve done it for mostly performance purposes on the tennis court, but also for my gluten allergies that were quite severe for a while. It’s been an evolution over time, and I’ve always been interested in finding ways for my body to feel its best and recover better as an athlete. The plant-based diet was a natural transition because, before that, I was a vegetarian. Overall, I’ve made the change not only for performance and for health, but for ethics and for the planet, to do my part for sustainability as well.
What are you most excited about with the Montblanc partnership?
It’s super exciting because I’ve personally used Montblanc for a long time. I write a lot and keep journals, I’ve been doing that for a lot of my career, and my wife and I are collectors at home of the notebooks and writing instruments. This collaboration is really very exciting. We’re very grateful that Montblanc has recognized the work of our foundation. The proceeds from the 300 limited-edition pieces in the collection will go to the foundation and more educational programs for kids around the world.
It’s very exciting for me to get to partner with Montblanc, as writing and journaling has been an important part of my life. When I was young, my tennis instructor was very influential in my life and she taught me a lot. She gave me all the fundamentals of tennis, but her approach was very holistic. So after training, we would listen to classical music and do relaxing visualizations, and journaling. So the journaling habit started there and I continued it over the years. My wife is an avid writer as well and it’s something we are both passionate about, which makes this partnership even more exciting for me and the foundation.
What’s some of the work you’re doing with the Novak Djokovic Foundation?
What we’re doing is personal to me, because I came from a war-torn country and education was essential for me as a young tennis player. It enabled me to reach my goals and dreams, and I want other kids to have that opportunity. The foundation was founded in 2007 and for several years we were mostly focused on education, then we partnered up with UNICEF and they provided a lot of support. One thing we did was build new kindergartens and partner up with local communities in Serbia, and now we’re doing more and more around the world with pre-school education and athletic programs for kids. It’s something that’s been very important for me.
Here’s a look at the special edition collection:
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