The Gold Coast SUNS have turned to an international sporting superstar for wisdom ahead of the 2021 AFL season.

The SUNS’ entire playing list was treated to an hour-long Zoom Q&A with world number one tennis pro Novak Djokovic on the eve of his semi-final victory over Aslan Karatsev at the Australian Open.

The Q&A was run by SUNS GM – Football Operations Jon Haines and organised with help from the club’s performance dietician Ben Parker, who worked in Djokovic’s personal nutrition team at the Open.

Snippets of the interview were included in the latest episode of the SUNS Media pre-season production Day by Day on the club’s website, where Djokovic spoke to the players about the importance of having an elite mindset and how that can directly affect performance.

“Belief is a word that is thrown around very often,” Djokovic said in the interview.

“How I like to describe it is belief is only a word if you don’t embody it, if you don’t really truly live it and feel it.

“Anything that you say in life to yourself as an encouragement or self-criticism has an effect only when you actually feel the resonance of that word in your whole body, and then it starts to manifest in your life.”

You only have to look at Djokovic’s record to see the results of a champion’s mentality.

In February, his victory in the Australian Open final over Daniil Medvedev saw him extend his record to nine titles in Australia, and 18 overall, just two shy of all-time leaders Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20.

This week Djokovic also overtook Federer for the most consecutive weeks at world No.1, with the Serbian now holding the position for 311 weeks.

When asked what it took to become the best in the world, Djokovic had a simple answer.

“If you really want to be the best in the world, or best in your country, or best in your club, then you have to step out of the comfort zone. 

“You have to go into the unknown in order to grow - it’s as simple as that. 

“You cannot grow if you’re in the comfort zone.”

The SUNS will be hoping Djokovic’s insights can help the team’s fortunes in 2021 as the club aims to climb the ladder and compete for finals for the first time in the club’s history.


Gold Coast played the Brisbane Lions in the AAMI Community Series pre-season match on Monday and will travel to play the West Coast Eagles in Round 1 on Sunday March 21.