World No.1 Novak Djokovic came to 2021 the All England Club with a clear objective of winning his sixth Wimbledon title. At the end of the fortnight, the Serb did exactly what everybody expected him to do. Djokovic beat challenger Matteo Berrettini to register his 20th Slam and also equaled arch-rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the tally for the most number of Grand Slams in men’s tennis history.
Even before the top-ranked Djokovic arrived in London, his success at 2021 Roland Garros had firmly put him in the driver’s seat for the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) debate. Now, after his triumph at the Championships, the 34-year-old has perhaps put the discussion to rest. While nobody can predict what the future holds ahead, it is pretty certain that Djokovic has firmly cemented his place at the best ever men’s player to hold a tennis racquet.
Djokovic’s GOAT title is also backed by several records, facts and stats. As the debate on the GOAT topic involving the big-three gained momentum a few years ago, many experts and former players believed that a player can only be called the best ever, based on the following factors.
Grand Slam titles
Inarguably the biggest prerequisite to determine whether one fits into the GOAT debate or not. It is widely believed that a player must excel in this department regardless of the era, one plays in. Currently, the big-three are tied at 20 apiece, given taking time, fitness and age into consideration, Djokovic is slightly better poised to end up with most Slams as compared to Federer and Nadal.
Djokovic is the only player ever in the history of the sport to win all the nine ATP 1000 Masters, across surfaces- a feat known as ‘Golden Masters’. From Indian Wells to Paris, he has won them all. In fact, he has also repeated this feat on two occasions. He has also amassed 36 Masters 1000 title—a joint record he shares with Rafa Nadal. Moreover, he has also won the ATP World Tour Finals on five separate occasions.
Djokovic rose to the top of the men’s rankings after winning the 2011 Wimbledon Championships after beating Nadal. Since then he has held the top spot in the rankings across five different stints for a record 330 plus weeks and counting. It is also believed that he is mathematically placed to lead the pack until the US Open. He even surpassed Federer’s 310 weeks as No.1 in March earlier in the year. Given his form and winning habit, he is certain to extend it by a few more weeks at least.
Domination and superior record of rivals
Djokovic’s dominance since the turn of the last decade has been well documented. In fact, Djokovic has not only convincingly beaten the top players on the tour, but also maintained his superiority on the head to head count.
Djokovic leads both Federer (27-23) and Nadal (30-28) in the head-to-head meetings. Furthermore, He is the only player to have wins over Federer and Nadal at all four Grand Slams. He’s also the only one to beat both in multiple Grand Slam finals, Also, he has beaten both on their preferred surface (Clay and Grass).
Talk about five-setters, Djokovic is a master there too. In all the matches that have gone the full distance, the Serb has won 35 matches and lost 10. Meanwhile Nadal has a 22-12 win/loss record and Federer’s drop in this segment is clearly visible (32 wins and 23 defeats).
Djokovic also became the only player to beat the Spaniard twice in Paris last month. It is also not to be forgotten that he has beat Federer in the finals of Wimbledon on three separate occasions. This further indicates that the Serb has also beaten the Nadal and Federer multiple times on their favourite surfaces.
Other Ignored Areas of Djokovic’s Greatness
Despite not being favoured and liked by tennis fans across the globe, the Serbian star has consistently shut his naysayers and haters. Time and again, Djokovic has proved his mental strength in testing times. In fact, given the unfair treatment that has been dished out on several occasions, Djokovic has responded to have the last laugh.
Aside of his mental fortitude, Novak Djokovic arguably is the only player on the ATP tour to applaud shots from his opponents, even if found in a spot of bother. While one might argue that it’s an individual sport and applauding opponents’ shot are purely a matter of choice, Djokovic’s approach perhaps demonstrates that he is free from any insecurity.
The 20-time Grand Slam winner has already won three Majors in a row this year and a victory at the upcoming US Open would make him only the second player after Rod Laver to win a Calendar Slam in the Open Era. Regardless of the what happens in New York, Djokovic will have the final laugh as the Greatest of All Time when it’s all said and done.