World number 1 Novak Djokovic said that he does not want to think that it was now or never for a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam victory. However, Djokovic said that he understands there is a unique opportunity to win a Career Slam when he plays at the US Open which is right around the corner. Djokovic could have made it a golden Grand Slam had he won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics but fell just short. Winning the US Open, nonetheless, would be a historic feat for the Serbian. He would become the first men’s tennis player since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all the four major slams in a single calendar year. It would also be his 21st Grand Slam title, which would take him past Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. All three are currently tied at 20 titles each.
Djokovic is seeded number 1 in the US Open and, unsurprisingly, is the strongest favourite to win the crown at the Flushing Meadows. The field would be relatively easier for the Serb as the two other 20-time champions, Federer and Nadal, will not be taking part in the competition owing to fitness issues. Therefore this is a golden opportunity for the Serbian to cement his legacy as the greatest men’s tennis player of this generation in terms of trophies won.
The world number 1 said that he was very much aware and looking forward to the massive history he would make should he win the tournament. However, Djokovic also said that it was more important to take it one moment at a time during the competition. He will open his campaign against a qualifier and is likely to face highly-rated Italian Matteo Berrettini in the quarter-finals.
“I’m very inspired to play my best tennis here. I don’t want to say it’s now or never for me because I think I’m going to have more opportunities in my life to win Slams. I don’t know if I’m going to be having more opportunities to win Calendar Slams,” Djokovic said, as quoted by the ATP.
“That’s why it’s a very unique opportunity. At the same time, I don’t need to put any additional pressure to what I already have, which is pretty big from my own self and from of course people around me,” the Serbian continued. “But I thrive under pressure, as well. I’ve done that many times in my career. Pressure is a privilege, it truly is. This is what you work for day-in, day-out, all your life, to put yourself in a unique position to win Grand Slams and to make history,” he added.
Despite Federer and Nadal not playing, Djokovic will face a lot of tough opponents. The top seed named Stefanos Tsistsipas, Daniil Medvedev, and Alexander Zverev as the top three contenders for the US Open title.
“You still have tremendous quality tennis players that are right now on hot streaks, like Zverev, Medvedev (and) Tsitsipas. Those are the three top contenders I see for the title. But a Grand Slam is a Grand Slam. It’s a two-week-long event, best-of-five (sets). Everyone wants to do well at the Grand Slams. Anything can really happen,” Djokovic said.
“Of course the top seeds are the top favourites to go far and go deep in the tournament, but I’ve been in this situation numerous times in my life,” he added.