This pigheadedness is Novak Djokovic’s superpower – and Achilles heel

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We are talking about a man with enormous resilience but precious little self-awareness. Just look at his bright and breezy social media post of Tuesday morning: “I’m heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let’s go 2022!” As if he had no idea that Australia has been locked up for the past two years.

Judging by the upbeat wording of that post, Djokovic was expecting the world to cheer along with him. He always assumes that he will be given the benefit of the doubt, because that’s what happens in his native Serbia – a country where he is perceived as Don Bradman, Frank Sinatra and Winston Churchill rolled into one. And it is this lordly self-regard, this unbreakable optimism, which has carried him to 21 major titles.

Yes, Djokovic and reality often seem to be loosely acquainted. But then, this can actually be an advantage when it comes to chasing audacious targets. Imagine that you are a 20-year-old playing your first major final against Roger Federer. It doesn’t help to view the world in 360 degrees. The best equipment is actually a set of psychological blinkers, to prevent you from realising the inherent unlikelihood of what you are trying to do.

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