Tennis Great Set To Deliver Motivational Ryder Cup Team Talk

Novak Djokovic will speak to Luke Donald's men before the action begins at Marco Simone on Friday

Novak Djokovic walks out onto a tennis court in front of a large screen depicting the flag of Serbia
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tennis legend Novak Djokovic is expected to fulfil the role of motivational speaker inside Team Europe’s Ryder Cup dressing room this week, according to a report from The Telegraph.

The 24-time Grand Slam victor is likely to follow in the footsteps of other sporting greats such as Sir Alex Ferguson, Gareth Edwards, and Pep Guardiola in providing rousing words of encouragement to the dozen in blue before they do battle with the fearsome Team USA.

Team Europe are trying to retain the Ryder Cup after their thumping at Whistling Straits two years ago, and the recent tactic of employing a sporting phenomenon is hoped to play a part in maintaining the Americans’ struggles away from home - with Team USA having failed to win out east since 1993.

And given Djokovic’s standing as the most successful male tennis star of all time, it is unsurprising that captain Luke Donald has apparently invited the Serbian into Europe’s inner sanctum in order to share some insight on how to beat the world’s best when there are such fine margins involved.

Sir Alex Ferguson, former manager of Manchester United, is pictured with The European Ryder Cup team (L-R) Front row: Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Sir Alex Ferguson, Paul McGinley, Justin Rose, Stephen Gallacher and Back Row: Thomas Bjorn, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Graeme McDowell, Jamie Donaldson and Victor Dubuisson) after delivering a motivational speech ahead of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel

Sir Alex Ferguson, former manager of Manchester United, is pictured with The European Ryder Cup team (L-R) Front row: Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Sir Alex Ferguson, Paul McGinley, Justin Rose, Stephen Gallacher and Back Row: Thomas Bjorn, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Graeme McDowell, Jamie Donaldson and Victor Dubuisson) after delivering a motivational speech ahead of the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The 36-year-old has enjoyed a long and successful career so far while continuing to hold his own in the upper echelons of tennis while a plethora of once-in-a-generation talents have come hunting for his crown.

Also a keen golfer, Djokovic is playing in Wednesday’s celebrity exhibition match at Marco Simone alongside the likes of Gareth Bale, Carlos Sainz junior, and team captain, Colin Montgomerie.

According to The Telegraph, Montgomerie and another former winning Ryder Cup captain, Paul McGinley will also speak to the players in a motivational capacity as the pair won in 2010 and 2014, respectively, and were revered for their leadership qualities.

Speaking to the national newspaper, Donald insisted he is “not gonna spoil it” in terms of too many guest speakers as he does not want a surplus of “large voices within the team room.”

Team Europe’s captain added: “You just need pretty good clarity on why you’re here and what the reason is and how you’re going to accomplish your goal.

“You know, these guys are very motivated, and then they seem very unified. There’s certain things we’ll be doing throughout this week just to make sure that we are working on being a team.”

Captain Luke Donald and Jon Rahm of Team Europe look on during a photo call

(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the European’s leading hopes - and current Masters champion - Jon Rahm revealed to The Telegraph that the players had already watched videos involving friends and family about their end goal and staying united throughout.

He said: “There’s very few players not shedding a few tears yesterday afternoon. I can say that.

“It was a lot of family related and the reason why all of us are here. I don’t want to say too much more than that. But I think even for people that are related, it’s going to definitely – if you guys were to watch it, it would make you feel a lot of the same emotions we felt.”

Jonny Leighfield
Staff Writer

Jonny Leighfield is our Staff Writer, joining Golf Monthly just in time for the 2023 Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup. He graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in Sport Journalism in 2017 and has since spent almost five years as the sole sports reporter at his local newspaper. The self-proclaimed ‘worst golfer in the office’ still enjoys playing as much as he can and is hoping to reach his Handicap goal of 18 at some stage. He attended both the 150th and 151st Opens and is keen to make it an annual pilgrimage.