Novak Djokovic: The man who broke the duopoly of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal

The Serb’s matchless ability to retrieve the ball against Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer from seemingly losing positions in rallies made him transform the “Big Two” of Tennis to “Big Three”.

Novak Djokovic in a file photo; Credit: US Open Tennis Twitter

When Novak Djokovic entered the arena, it was all about Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s incredible dominance. In his initial years, Djokovic showed a lot of promise but struggled to get past the final hurdle. It was in the 2008 Australian Open the Serb broke the two-horse race and turned it into a three-way battle. With 18 Grand Slam singles titles, including a record nine Australian Open titles, and 36 Masters trophies, Djokovic is one of the top players of his generation.

He was famously being referred to as Djoker for impersonating the likes of Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal early in his career. With passing years, the jokes were on others as the Serbian was unstoppable on the court. He rattled the best two players of the generation and soon made it a “Big Three”. Along with Federer and Nadal, he became the player to beat as tennis witnessed epic rivalries blossom between them.

Known for his famous drop shots, Djokovic had a lot of tricks in his locker. He is highly efficient with forehand and backhand, and would give no time for opponents to settle down with his aggressive style of play. His trademark quick returns on either side of the court makes him extremely difficult to play against. Novak’s serve is a powerful weapon, which he uses to his full strength to get himself out of tricky situations.

Rise to the top

After winning his first ATP title at the Dutch Open in 2006, he had to wait two years for his maiden slam trophy. In the intermediate period, he even lost a final against Federer in the 2007 US Open. However, in the next Grand Slam – 2008 Australian Open – he got his maiden breakthrough.

Djokovic stunned the two-time defending champion Federer en route to the final. With a four-set victory over Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Novak won his first of his nine Australian Open title. He soon started competing with the best in the sport, winning multiple major honours.

It was in 2011, the Serb stamped his authority, winning ten tournaments in the calendar year. He also won three Grand Slams – Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. Besides, he also bagged a record five ATP World Tour Masters titles. After establishing himself as a hard court star, Djoker extended his dominance to grass and clay surfaces.

Career Slam

It was in 2016, he completed a career Grand Slam by winning the Roland Garros. With that win, he also became the third player in history to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time. He has also finished as year-end No. 1 on six occasions. It is an Open Era record shared with the former legend Pete Sampras.

At age 20, Djokovic halted Federer and Nadal’s streak of 11 consecutive majors to bag his first Grand Slam singles title. Since then there was no looking back as Djoker’s reign continued in tennis. Still only 33, he can very well surpass the 20 Grand Slam titles held by Federer and Nadal. His thumping win in this year’s Australian Open is another indication to his growing dominance. With the required skill set at his disposal, Djokovic has the ability to become the greatest of all time.

Sportslumo Desk

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