Roman Safiullin identifies part of game that makes Novak Djokovic nightmare opponent

Safiullin fell just one win short of setting up a Djokovic match at Wimbledon.

by Dzevad Mesic
Roman Safiullin identifies part of game that makes Novak Djokovic nightmare opponent

Wimbledon sensation Roman Safiullin described Novak Djokovic as a player who is mentally "on a different level" compared to the rest of the competition. Safiullin, 25, fell just a win short of setting up a Djokovic semifinal in his Wimbledon main draw.

Instead, Jannik Sinner will be facing Djokovic in the semifinal at The Championships. But Safiullin knows how it feels to play against Djokovic, having played against the Serb in the 2022 Tel Aviv semifinal last year. In his first and lone meeting against Djokovic, Safiullin suffered a 1-6 6-7 (3) loss.

Safiullin on why Djokovic is such a nightmare opponent

"I think mentally. This is the one word that can describe it. He's mentally like on a different level. When you step or when you see how he prepares before the match and when he steps on the court, it's like you feel that it's a different energy.

To play against him, you have to be like 120%, 150% all the time. If you need to play five sets, you have to be on this one. If you drop 5%, then he takes you," Safiullin said. Safiullin, ranked at No 92 in the world, enjoyed quite a main draw debut at The All England Club.

In his first Grand Slam quarterfinal, Safiullin competed extremely well against Sinner but the eighth-ranked Italian managed to beat the Russian 6-4 3-6 6-2 6-2. "Yeah, I mean, I'm still happy about this tournament that I could make it to the quarterfinals.

Jannik is definitely one of the toughest opponents. He's playing on all surfaces very good. Yeah, he was much better, I would say, today than me. He deserves this win," Safiullin reflected. Safiullin, who has never been ranked higher than world No 82, will enter the top-50 for the first time in his career on Monday. It remains to be seen if Safiullin can make more strong results post-Wimbledon.

Roman Safiullin Novak Djokovic Wimbledon