Novak Djokovic is the Greatest of All Time. Period! Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer fans would have apoplexy on just reading that first statement. But, the numbers and the achievements of Novak Djokovic are simply too good to ignore. Sure, Federer and Nadal have both won 20 Grand Slams. They set the original benchmark for dominance. But, Djokovic has overcome them all with his sheer brilliance.
Yet again, some basic numbers cement Djokovic as the G.O.A.T. The Serb is the only player to have a positive head-to-head ratio against both Nadal and Federer. Perhaps, the greatest achievement of Djokovic is beating Nadal twice at the French Open. This is something Federer has never achieved in his career. Djokovic halted Federer’s surge for a ninth title at Wimbledon in the most dramatic circumstances, with his mental strength shining through in a five-set thriller.
The second French Open title is epoch-defining in more ways than one. There have been players who have won all four Grand Slams two times or more but never in the Open Era. A point to note – The Open Era has been in place for 53 years now. Rod Laver was the first individual to win all four Grand Slams in the Open Era. But, most of his wins came in the era before that.
Heading into the final, Djokovic also had to encounter several jinxes in Roland Garros. The players who had previously defeated Rafael Nadal in the tournament had lost in the final. Robin Soderling and Djokovic in 2009 and 2015 lost to Federer and Stan Wawrinka respectively. The fact that Djokovic won after beating Nadal in the semi-final is ample test of his greatness.
Djokovic has won Wimbledon and the French Open by beating two players who had dominated the surface unlike any. Beating Nadal at Roland Garros, a place where he has had over 100 wins in 16 years, is a legendary feat. Getting the better of Federer in Wimbledon 2019 has put Djokovic on a pedestal that only Nadal enjoyed when he ended his dominance in 2008.
The Serb was two sets down in the final against Stefanos Tsitsipas. Calmly but clinically, Djokovic clawed his way back into the match. He won the big moments, held his serve at crucial times and broke Tsitsipas at vital intervals. In an exhibition of great mental strength, Djokovic managed to overcome the odds and create history. The history-defining moment is pretty similar to what had happened 22 years earlier.
Andre Agassi was down by two sets to love against Andriy Medvedev. However, he bounced back and won the final in dramatic style to join Laver as the second player in the Open Era to win all four Grand Slams. It had taken 30 years for someone to match Laver. Now, 53 years since its creation, Djokovic now stands on a different level as compared to Nadal and Federer.
Nadal’s chances of equaling Djokovic now lie in two factors. One, if Nadal wins the year-ending ATP Championships, then he will stake his claim to greatness closer. The clincher will be if he wins the Australian Open in 2022. Then Nadal will join Djokovic in the player winning all four Grand Slams twice. Federer’s chances of winning the French Open twice now seem all but over.
The year 2021 promises to be an epoch defining year for the Serb. If he wins Wimbledon, then Djokovic will be level on 20 Grand Slam titles with Federer and Nadal. What a trio that will be. If Djokovic wins the singles gold in Tokyo and if fitness permits the doubles, then he will have accomplished everything in the world of Tennis.
Nadal is the only player to have won the golden slam and that will never be taken away from him. Federer has not win the singles gold in Tokyo. Djokovic, on the other hand, has not won gold in either the singles or the doubles in Olympics. With Wimbledon and Olympics around the corner, Djokovic now has the power to eclipse the achievements of both Federer and Nadal in the space of two months.
But, it must be reiterated, the greatness of Federer and Nadal can never be diminished. Both maestros have established records that will stand the test of time. But, Djokovic has ensured that his greatness has gotten a seal of approval after winning the French Open twice. Nine Australian, five Wimbledon and three US Opens are a testament to his brilliance in addition to his two French Opens. Hail, King Novak. The new master of tennis and now part of the holy trinity of Federer and Nadal.