There is probably no superlative that perfectly describes Djokovic more than greatness. Yet, Ivanisevic has been tasked to improve on a brilliant mind that is almost tactically flawless on a tennis court. For all of Djokovic's hustle and success, losing is just not part of any pre-match conversation with his coaching team.
So on the rare occasion it happens (occurred seven times in 2023), it is a "torturous" environment as the Croat puts it. Djokovic has set the bar so high that very few on the ATP Tour can dare to jump and touch it but still demands the very best out of himself and his supporting cast.
In a fascinating insight shared on We Are Tennis, into life behind the scenes, Ivanisevic was symbolic of how Djokovic stretches every limb and fiber of their imagination even when he wins. Case in point was at this year's Roland Garros when he won his 23rd major title.
"He chain us with handcuffs for three days. He's not an easy guy, let’s put it this way. Especially when something’s not going his way. He was torturing us, taking our nails off. A lot more things but I cannot tell you that. But we are still here, we’re alive."
"My heart is still okay. I’m an old man, I need to be careful of my heart. So, he’s okay. We are here for him to feel better, for him to perform better. Sometimes it’s not easy. Sometimes it’s very complicated."
Coaching the world's best tennis player can feel like the easiest job. But Djokovic's constant search for improvement has kept his Croatian coach on his toes all year and he's delighted to see his impact with how Djokovic has adapted his net game in key matches during the season.
"It’s very tough to improve with him. But he wants to improve. That's the good thing and bad thing for me as a coach and the rest of the team."
"I think he improved a lot his volleys, his game at the net, and his position at the net. Now when he comes to the net generally and this year, he plays some amazing volleys. His position at the net is a lot better. Is very tough to pass him. Before he was very easy to pass. Now he knows what he's doing at the net. He's comfortable at the net."
"Final of US Open he played two, three most important volleys in the final against (Daniil) Medvedev. He's not afraid to come to the net. He's hitting the forehands much, much harder. He's going for the shots. Serving, I think second serve, sometimes he's hitting over 200. He's just going for it."
Ivanisevic has overseen nine of the 24 Grand Slam titles that Djokovic has won from the coaching box. While he has previously joked that he is the scapegoat in the team when Djokovic loses, he repeated himself thrice in the interview just to emphasize the complexity of his current job.
"Is not easy. Is not easy. Is not easy. That's life. He's No. 1. He wants always more. He wants something better all the time."