“When I was seven or eight years old, I dreamed of becoming the best tennis player in the world. Lifting the trophy at Wimbledon was the only goal I wanted, but then I set new dreams and goals and worked towards them. I never imagined that I would win my 24th Grand Slam title and be talking to (you) like this.”
World tennis fans are living in the ‘Age of Djokovic’. Novak Djokovic (36, Serbia, world No. 1) defeated Daniil Medvedev (27, Russia, world No. 3) 3-0 (6-3 7-6<7-5> 6-3) in the men’s singles final of the 2023 U.S. Open tennis tournament at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York, U.S., on Monday (Nov. 11).
Upon reaching the podium, Djokovic quickly removed his jumper with the number “24” on it. The T-shirt underneath featured a photo of him with NBA legend Kobe Bryant (USA). After winning his 24th Grand Slam title, Djokovic paid tribute to Bryant, who wore the number 24 during his lifetime. It was a cinematic scene, to say the least.
Born in Belgrade, Serbia, Djokovic’s childhood was marred by the Yugoslav civil war. His parents struggled to support him to play tennis, which was not cheap. With a combination of natural talent, rigorous self-discipline, and a relentless work ethic that refused to settle for anything less than the top, Djokovic became tennis’ GOAT (The Greatest Of All Time).
‘Flawless Technician’ Beyond ‘Rivalry of the Century’ Federer-Nadal
Since 2000, the history of men’s tennis has been dominated by the rivalry between Roger Federer (42, Switzerland) and Rafael Nadal (37, Spain). They are considered the greatest rivals in the history of the sport. Djokovic burst onto the scene and soon ushered in the “era of the big three”. The rivalry between Federer and Nadal, along with Djokovic’s addition to the mix, helped drive men’s tennis into the stratosphere.
As a youngster, Djokovic’s temperamental nature often caused him to drop matches he had won, but as he gained control of his mind, he developed the mental strength to surpass Federer and Nadal. Add to that the fact that he was a “flawless technician” and a “jack-of-all-trades,” and you have a man who has left his mark on tennis history.
Federer has won 20 major championships. He battled nagging knee injuries and tried to return to the court, but ultimately announced his retirement last year.
Nadal was the first to win 22 Grand Slam titles, conquering the Australian Open and French Open last year. Since then, however, he has been hampered by a series of injuries. In May, he withdrew from the French Open after failing to recover from a hip injury. Nadal, who hasn’t been on the court this year, announced his retirement after next year’s French Open.
With the two “tennis greats” failing to stand the test of time, Djokovic has stepped up as the frontrunner in the GOAT race. Last year, Djokovic entered a “dark period” in his tennis career. He withdrew from the Australian Open after failing to get a COVID-19 vaccine. He was also unable to compete on the prestigious North American men’s ATP tour and failed to qualify for the US Open.
But this year, with the US and Australian governments easing COVID-19 restrictions, Djokovic seized the opportunity. He won his 10th Australian Open title and topped the French Open without Nadal. He went on to win his 24th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, where he battled the “Rising Sun” Carlos Alcaraz (20, Spain, World No. 2) in the final, but fell 2-3 (6-1 6-7<6-8> 1-6 6-3 4-6).
Alcaraz’s crowning as the ‘new emperor’ seemed to dampen Djokovic’s spirits, but the ‘never-say-die’ man was quick to respond. In the final of the ATP Tour’s Western & Southern Open, a precursor to the US Open, he defeated Alcaraz 2-1 (5-7 7-6<9-7> 7-6<7-4>) in a three-hour, 49-minute thriller.
Djokovic then went on to win the US Open and reached the final. His opponent for the title was not Alcaraz, but Medvedev, whom he had defeated in the final of this tournament two years earlier. Djokovic was in control from start to finish, defeating the ‘hardcourt powerhouse’ in straight sets.
With this victory, Djokovic equaled Margaret Court’s (AUS) record of 24 Grand Slam titles, proving that he has surpassed Nadal and Federer as the winner of the GOAT race.
Djokovic’s myth is not over… The record-breaker never stops.
Medvedev, who finished runner-up at the US Open, jokingly congratulated Djokovic on his achievement, saying, “Novak, how are you still here, and when are you going to slow down?”
Indeed, in the semifinals, Djokovic defeated Ben Shelton (20, USA, World No. 19), who is 16 years younger than him, 3-0 (6-3 6-2 7-6<7-4>). In the final, he defeated Medvedev, who is nine years younger, to win the title. 카지노사이트
Despite being in his mid-thirties, Djokovic’s stamina hasn’t diminished compared to his younger counterparts, and he’s been able to stay injury-free thanks to his strict self-care regimen.
If this year’s momentum is any indication, barring a major injury, Djokovic’s rise will continue next year. January 2024 will see the Australian Open, Djokovic’s favorite tournament. The French Open is still Djokovic’s most difficult tournament, even though Nadal is not as good as he used to be, and the presence of the “new clay” Alcaraz is a threat.
At Wimbledon, the seven-time champion is still the favorite. Along with the French Open, the US Open has been a struggle for Djokovic, but he has regained his confidence this year with a win at the top. It will also be interesting to see if the ‘record-breaker’ can complete the calendar Grand Slam (winning all four Grand Slams in a year), which he has twice missed.
Of the ‘Big Three’, Djokovic is the only one still in his prime. For the rest of this year and into next, he’ll be competing against younger players, including his ‘new rival’ Alcaraz, in a variety of tournaments.