Like many others, Novak Djokovic used to be just another player when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal ruled the squad in the late 2000s. However, the Serb made notable changes to his lifestyle and stepped up his game in early 2011. Since then, his biggest rivals Federer and Nadal have won four and 13 Grand Slam titles respectively, with Djokovic alone winning 20 of them.
It’s no secret that unless it’s Nick Kyrgios, a player can’t do his best without a team of professionals. World No. 7 Djokovic has a team of seasoned veterans in the form of coach Goran Ivanisevic, fitness coach Marco Panichi and the most important part of the camp – his physio Ulises Badio.
First of all, he’s an extraordinary person, he’s a good man and the way he treats others is impressive,” Djokovic said of Badio.
Argentinian Badio has degrees in kinesiology and physiotherapy, but also practices manual therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Djokovic, who has rarely struggled with injuries in his career, struggled with a major problem in his elbow in 2017, forcing him to miss a few events including the US Open. That’s when he started working with Badio.
“I started working for ATP in Rome between 2011 and 2012. We saw each other every time he came. As a physiotherapist, I had very clear goals since my youth, my dream was to be with the number one player to work. Years passed and finally Novak asked me to treat him in 2017. He asked me to come to Roland Garros and here we are still together,” Badio said.
“Holistic aside, both Novak and I have very specific life stories. I don’t know if it brought us closer, but it helped us to be very open when we’re making a decision or doing some kind of therapy. That to one largely made us want to stay together.”
Badio is always next to Djokovic during a tournament and constantly checks him on what the Serb is doing. The 43-year-old physio believes the smallest details can affect Djokovic during a game.
“We work with him 24 hours a day. I always have to follow him, even when he’s sitting, to see what his posture is like, or to know how much water he’s been drinking or eating, or if he’s been talking to someone on the phone for a long time, because every little detail can change him in the game,” added Badio.
Novak Djokovic is just 1 Major behind Rafael Nadal
After finishing 20th, world No. 7 Novak Djokovic had to wait 364 days for his 21st Grand Slam title when he defeated Nick Kyrgios in the summit match of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships last Sunday. When the Serb defeated Cameron Norrie in the semifinals, he set the record for most major finals appearances among men – 32. Before that, he and Roger Federer tied on points for 31 finals each.
In the Grand Slam race, Novak Djokovic has left Federer behind for the first time as the Swiss maestro, who became the first man to reach 20 Majors, is now third on the list. Djokovic is just one title away from Grand Slam record holder Rafael Nadal, who won both the Australian Open and Roland Garros this year, bringing his tally to 22.