On Sunday, Novak Djokovic triumphed at Roland Garros for the third time in his career, thus winning his 23rd trophy at the Grand Slam tournaments and for the first time in his career becoming the most successful tennis player in the world by the number of titles at the four most important tournaments in this sport.
Djokovic broke almost all records and left behind his two biggest rivals – Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. With the victory in Paris, it seems, he has definitely confirmed the status of the best tennis player in the history of this sport, and even those who have disputed him the most now admit that he has taken away all arguments from them, except subjective ones.
CNN Sport also writes about the Serbian tennis player’s current dominance and his place in the history of tennis, which believes that Djokovic, despite being 36 years old, is still the best tennis player in the world.
“While watching Casper Rudd’s forehand finish out of bounds, Novak Djokovic fell to the red Paris clay, arms and legs outstretched, and began to realize what he had just achieved – writes CNN Sport and adds:
“This was the moment he won his 23rd Grand Slam title, overtaking Rafael Nadal at the top of the list of the greatest tennis players of all time. In the golden age of this sport – which goes back 20 years, since Roger Federer’s first Grand Slam title – Djokovic surpassed both his rivals and became the greatest tennis player in history.”
His three-set win against Rudd on Sunday was his third Roland Garros title, making him the first player to win every Grand Slam at least three times. He also reached the top of the ATP rankings for the 388th time in his career, well ahead of Federer’s 310 weeks.
I don’t want to say that I’m the greatest, because, as I’ve already said, I think it’s disrespectful to all the great champions in different eras of our sport – Djokovic told reporters after the final, and then added:
– I leave those discussions about who is the greatest to others.
The Serbian has dropped just two sets at Roland Garros over the past two weeks, and his dominance of the tournament was all the more remarkable given what had preceded it.
He failed to pass the quarterfinals in the three tournaments preceding Roland Garros, he also had problems with an elbow injury, and clay is not his favorite surface.
However, everything changed when he arrived in Paris and the opportunity to make history was within his reach.
– He has the mental fortitude to shift into Grand Slam “mode” when the time comes. The Grand Slam is a different sport compared to other tournaments – Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanišević told reporters on Sunday.
There was a lot of symbolism in the fact that 45-year-old Tom Brady, the legendary quarterback who is considered the greatest NFL player of all time, was in Djokovic’s box during the Roland Garros final. Like Brady – and like Federer and Nadal – Djokovic has shown he can win titles at an age considered late for athletes. He admitted that his body “reacts differently” to the demands of top tennis compared to five or ten years ago, but his brain and desire are still at the same level.
– If I’m winning Grand Slams, why should I even think about ending a career that has already lasted 20 years? I still feel motivated, I still feel inspired to play the best tennis in these tournaments, especially the Grand Slams. These are the ones who count the most in the history of our sport. I’m already looking forward to Wimbledon – said Djokovic after his triumph in Paris.
Indeed, Djokovic added that the upcoming Wimbledon will be the only tournament on grass in the coming weeks. There, he will try to defend his title and take another step towards achieving the calendar grand slam, that is, winning all four major tournaments in the same year (Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open).
The last tennis player to do this was Rod Laver in 1969, and Djokovic was just one win short of that feat last year.
Whether it happens this year, next year or in the future, it’s hard not to see the world number one adding more Grand Slam titles to his tally, especially while staying safe from serious injuries.
– He is incredible. He still moves like a cat on the field. He will find, again, some kind of motivation to win 24, maybe even 25. Who knows where the end is – Ivanišević said.
On the court, Djokovic’s precision, stamina and extraordinary flexibility are the foundations of his game, allowing him to switch quickly from defense to attack.
Either he plays absurdly good defense or he plays beautiful winning shots – says Rudd, who has not won a single set against Djokovic in five duels between them.
– First it takes away your legs, then your soul – Andy Roddick, former world number one, described Djokovic’s game during the 2021 US Open.
Djokovic is no stranger to being at the center of controversy, and after the second round of Roland Garros, he said that he is driven by the drama that usually follows him at the biggest tournaments.
This related to the political message he sent about Kosovo at the start of Roland Garros, but also at the last two Australian Opens: in January he had to explain how his father had no intention of supporting “any war initiatives” after being filmed with the group Russian fans at “Melbourne Park”, and last year he was deported from Australia because he was not vaccinated against covid-19. Also, in 2020, he was disqualified from the US Open because he hit the linesman with the ball.
Still, Djokovic is unassailable on the court despite these controversies, unwaveringly chasing tennis history. In addition to 23 Grand Slam titles, he has won every Masters 1000 tournament and the Final Masters at least twice.
– He wins the debate about the best of all time when we use numbers as arguments. Anything you say against Djokovic must be on a subjective, almost emotional level in that debate – said tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg after the Roland Garros final.
“It seems that the question is not whether the most successful player in history will win another Grand Slam tournament, but when it will happen,” writes CNN.