STARNBERG, July 13 (Guest Post)
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have been the joint holders of the most Grand Slam titles, with 20 each, until Novak Djokovic came level this summer with his Wimbledon victory.
For his sixth Wimbledon title Djokovic came back from losing the first set 6-7 to Matteo Berrettini to go and win the following three 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 and claim his 20th Grand Slam. With his Wimbledon victory, Djokovic became the first man in more than 50 years to win the opening three grand slam tournaments in a year.
Today, Djokovic is the undisputed number one in world tennis and this year having also won the Australian Open and Roland Garros he is on for the Golden Slam while competing in the Tokyo Olympics this year as well. The only player with this record to date is the legendary Steffi Graf did it in 1988, when she won gold at the South Korea Olympics.
Last spring Djokovic managed to beat rival Roger Federer’s resounding record of 310 weeks spent at the top of the ATP rankings, a figure which seemed almost unattainable. Federer has taken time away from tennis recently to recover fully for the US Open, missing Roland Garros and the Olympics, and will be ready, along with Nadal to do all they can to stop Djokovic’s 2021 dominance.
In 2006 Djokovic reached the Top 40 in world men’s singles and also won his first ATP title at the Dutch Open in Amersfoort. Later that year he added the Moselle Open trophy to his cabinet, winning the title in Metz and moving up into the Top 20.
2007 started brilliantly for the Serbian, winning in Adelaide, though he was brought back down to earth by his now eternal rival Roger Federer who defeated him in straight sets at the Australian Open fourth round. He bounced back well and added four more titles that year, winning at Miami, Estoril, Montreal and Vienna.
In 2008 Djokovic came up against Roger Federer at the Australian Open once again, this time in the semi finals. He was victorious and defeated the world number one before going on to claim his first major, getting the better of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final to claim his first grand slam.
It was a long wait for his next grand slam, but in 2011 Djokovic had one of the greatest seasons in tennis history. He won 10 tournaments in 2011, including three Grand Slams at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. This was the year that Djokovic became world number one for the first time, and defeated Rafael Nadal in six different finals. His was now part of the elite and would remain there through to today.
In 2015 he once again won three different Grand Slams with victories at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. In 2016 he finally gained the elusive fourth grand slam title with a win over Andy Murray at Roland Garos.
2017 was an injury hit year and Djokovic was forced to miss the second half of the season with an elbow injury having had to retire from Wimbledon due to it. The first half of the year had its difficulties too and Djokovic split from his training staff and brought in Andre Agassi as coach. Djokovic showed his ability and mental strength to recover and get back to being world number one the following year.
Tennis legend John McEnroe is sure that Djokovic will go on to be the most successful male tennis player in history. “He’s put himself so far out in front of everyone in terms of his ability to embrace what he’s doing – in terms of creating history – and being able to execute under a lot of stress. You’re trying to break the all-time records – there’s a lot of pressure. He’s able to play his best tennis at this point. You expect that to go on for another couple of years, unless someone steps up and realizes how great they are.”
Even at the age of 34, Djokovic looks to be continuously improving and the appointment of former world number two Goran Ivanisavic as coach back in 2019 appears to have been a key part of his development.
Known for his defensive style and his focus on these strengths previously, Djokovic is now able to mix his game up more depending on the opponent. His serve has seen a steady improvement over the years, especially since the introduction of Ivanisavic to the coaching team. He also moved up from the baseline more in this year’s Wimbledon towards the net, choosing unexpectedly attacking tennis. Often referred to as a machine, Djokovic has now brought a mixture of styles to his game to provide more excitement for the crowd as well as make himself an even bigger threat to his opponents.
If the Golden Slam does not happen this year, it won’t be long till Djokovic wins another grand slam and looks set to go down in history as the most decorated men’s singles player of all time. Already one of the greats of the sport, he looks set to go on to be the most successful and considered the greatest player in history.