It’s no secret that 21-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic has changed the modern game with his unbelievable shot making. He achieves supreme coverage by sliding around all corners of the tennis court with control and balance – even on a hard court.
Much of this technique was developed on the mountains where a young Djokovic, on ski holidays with his family and professional skier father, honed his now trademark slide and split antics from the slopes to the slams. “I skied a lot when I was a kid and also competed in a few races. That was one aspect that helped me with mobility. I also played outside a lot on uneven surfaces which helped challenge my joints to be more adaptable”, explained the tennis ace at the ASICS Tennis Summit.
His sporting talent – and immense pliability – has gone from strength to strength with concentrated core physical conditioning and yoga – the latter being a central part of his workout routine.
But as the experts say, everything “starts from the feet up” and that’s exactly where Novak began his journey with ASICS and his involvement in creating what may just be the best all-court tennis shoe.
“I’ve really enjoyed the process. Good things take time”, Djokovic tells us. “I feel lighter on my feet, more flexible, can change direction faster, slide and still have stability. “It was really important to invent a shoe that I’m going to use and is able to adapt well on all different surfaces.”
What are the stand-out features of the ASICS Court FF Novak?
The ASICS Court FF Novak has been praised for a few years, and has evolved and improved over time. Now, the new FF3 iteration has taken another leap forward, advancing with a stronger, quicker and more supple sneaker. Not only that, but it includes a ground-breaking unique three section sole system helping players to brake and rebound better off all angles.
The improved two-piece TwissTruss technology is at the heart of the shoe, enabling it to twist, bend and rebound energy upon impact in a beat of a nano second. It should also reduce stress on the body by 7 percent, according to the brand.
What was the process of creating the shoe?
First of all, ASICS identified what type of player they were making the shoe for – be it a baseliner or all-court – and how the kinetic body chain works. Once that is established, concept sketching on specific athletic movement coupled with techniques of the shoe are created.
From there, prototype versions are made and measured against vigorous product testing. The process involves ASICS own specialist sports science HQ in Japan and years of research, while fusing the brands “sound body, sound mind” mantra into its core development. We hear Novak went through no less than 15 pairs before they were able to reach their goal.
Yet it wasn’t always easy to nail down the tennis star. “It’s very tricky to test a shoe during the season, it’s like changing a racket and is so sensitive, the slightest of changes can make a difference at the highest level in a good or not such a good way”, Djokovic reveals.
I was lucky enough to be one of the first of a select group to put the shoes through their paces and I have enjoyably racked up hours on court breaking them down. So, how do they perform in the hands (or feet) of an experienced club player like myself?
Made of the highest quality, the shoes are of the utmost comfort courtesy of the FlyteFoam cushioning and inner sock component which secures your foot in place. I fiddled around with the lacing system for a while until I achieved a snug fit, but after that I felt totally at one with the shoe.
I like patrolling the baseline, so these shoes are not designed around my natural game. However, I did find myself cutting up and down the court with more aggression. The uppers with their textured design double as a durable protective barrier and ventilate your feet effectively at the same time.
Amazingly, the Court FF3 Novak is pretty much identical off the shelf to the one the man himself wears on tour. The only minor difference is a tailored fit to Novak’s feet (usually, professionals customize their footwear in all sorts of ways – either cosmetically updated or a hybrid/bespoke made).
As Novak says himself, “It’s like jumping into a sports car.” So, why not take them for a spin yourself and see how fast you can be on court?