A RARE LOOK – Novak Djokovic Like You’ve Never Known Him

Photo by JOE TOTH/AFP/Getty Images


Novak Djokovic has always been a seeker – a person who takes different paths, who always explores. You might call him a restless spirit – or maybe an old soul.

As a kid, his extraordinary tennis teacher, Jelena Gencic, would tell him to feel the rhythms within classical music – they were like tennis, she said. And she would insist that Novak find meaning in the words of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.

When Djokovic went to a German tennis factory for teens, others partied. But laserlike, he focused on his path to success.

When he first emerged on tour, he displayed a comedic flair and mime-like ability to imitate that left fans in stitches. In tennis, only Mansour Bahrami was funnier. Then, when health problems emerged, he took up a gluten-free diet and wrote a book on nutrition. He shared time with Christian monks in Serbia and visited Buddhist shrines – om mani Padme Hum. He’s not your standard ATP-lifer.

More recently he befriended the rather mysterious Pepe Imaz, a former ATP player who was once ranked No. 146 and who now has a tennis academy in Marbella Spain.

Imaz is a spiritual teacher who cured Novak’s brother Marko of depression. He practices meditation, wears white, seeks harmony and, yes, he values hugs.

But wait – isn’t tennis merely a Darwinian struggle?  Isn’t outer ferocity far more important than inner peace? Isn’t it just all about victory or defeat – end of discussion?

Well, maybe. Still, in a talk that Novak gave last year at a gathering with Imaz in Spain, he seemed less like a twelve-time Slam winner and more like a young spiritual seeker – a searching soul offering plenty of still-emerging suggestions which were not exactly about winning majors out there on court, but more about what’s really important: major breakthroughs within. Here’s his talk. What do you think?

“How wonderful it is to be here today to talk about love – love in life and happiness …

“Just before we came on the stage this group [here on stage] did a very long, deep meditation, asking and wishing for harmony in our souls with your souls, asking and wishing for this wonderful moment to be special so that we establish a connection between us all. We came on stage and Pepe started to talk and asked you to close your eyes and to go into meditation. That meditation helped us to be even more profound and strong.

“And why is meditation so important? 

“It doesn’t matter if you are in sports, it doesn’t matter in which profession you are in life, essentially we are the same. And we all need to go inside ourselves to observe from different perspectives what is going on inside. When we go inside we switch off the…exterior light. We go inside to try to calm our minds and energies. Because essentially we are all looking for love, happiness and harmony.

“And why are we trying to do that?

“Essentially we are all the same, and we all need to go inside of ourselves in order to observe from different perspectives what is going on inside.

“Because essentially we’re all looking for love, happiness and harmony. And to find the love, happiness and harmony we need … to look inwards, and establish insight and connection with this divine light. Because this [is] the way for us to find love.

“Imagine this illustration of what is happening in your mind. It is like traffic on the streets. You are in the car. Your thoughts, your emotions are the cars on the streets. In most of situations in your life, you are part of this traffic. Many times you find yourself frustrated because of that traffic. There are different cars, there are lights, and too many people. You’re late, and there’s a reason for you to get nervous. But what if, for a second, instead of being in the traffic, you are outside of the traffic, and you are on a mountain and observing the traffic. The same kind of process can happen in your head. If you are closing your eyes and focusing on yourself, on your soul, internally, and you believe that being disciplined in this process this will allow you to be the one observing the traffic.

 “Another example: if your mind is a clear blue sky, your thoughts are clouds. The clouds are passing by constantly, but they are not your mind. If you connect with the clouds instantaneously, your mind loses the perception of the clear blue skies. It’s the same thing with the traffic. If you are instantly connected with the car and what is happening in the car, you are not able to observe from different perspective, a more generous perspective.

“And why is it important that you observe things from different perspectives?

“Because you can select the emotions and thoughts you want to go with – that’s why meditation is so important – the self work, because you are able to select the right emotions and love you are looking for. 

“And to finish, I wish all of you here in the room that you feel this connection with love, now and forever. Thank you.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here