Shortly before winning his last singles title of the season, Novak Djokovic once again had one of his opponent’s balls controlled. The approximately 12,000 spectators were probably convinced that Jannik Sinner’s ball had landed on the line when he hit the ball. The video recording, which later served as an aid, showed: There was a small gap between the landing point and the sideline: get out!
Djokovic smiled smugly to himself. Was there anything he couldn’t do that Sunday night? If he had spontaneously followed up his seventh triumph at the ATP Finals in Turin, with which he surpassed the Swiss Roger Federer (six titles), with seven flick flacks on the hard court of the Pala Alpitour, he would also have been able to achieve this feat. .
“A 36-year-old man has never played tennis at this level,” said former player Jim Courier.
Novak Djokovic dominates men’s tennis like no one before. He has won 24 Grand Slams, three this year alone. So far he has won 40 titles in the Masters category. For the eighth time he finished this season as first in the world ranking. Starting this Monday he will enter his 400th week as the best in the industry.
Someone on the Internet had fun and calculated how long Djokovic had been number one if you could count the time he spent in that ranking position in his career. The result was in March 2016. At the end of the seasonal tournament for the top eight professionals, he achieved his 98th victory in the tournament; The American Jimmy Connors continues to lead with 109, but almost no one can doubt that this mark will decrease. Djokovic, and this makes his life achievement even more special, is no longer the youngest. “A 36-year-old man has never played tennis at this level,” former player Jim Courier said on the Tennis Channel.
“It is without a doubt one of the best seasons of my life,” Djokovic confirmed after his dominant performance in Turin, in which he defeated Sinner 6:3, 6:3. You have to use the plural, the selection is very large now. Even beyond his sport, Djokovic is emerging as one of the biggest phenomena. What athletes have been so successful in his discipline, for so long and across generations?
His work has no end in sight. “As long as I can beat them on the big stage, I’ll keep going,” she said, “why stop when you’re still there?” By “them” she meant all the younger opponents. “Once they start kicking my butt, I’ll think about taking a short or maybe permanent break from professional tennis.”
Rivals are now even achieving one or two successes. In July, Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz defeated Djokovic in a memorable final at Wimbledon. In Turin, Sinner also beat the Serbian in three sets. But that was in the group stage. Sinner, the friendly South Tyrolean with the red head, could even have knocked Djokovic out of the competition if he had lost to Denmark’s Holger Rune. But, slightly ill, he fought his way to a three-set victory in front of a roaring crowd of home fans. Djokovic was in the semifinals and corrected the old power situation in the final.
Your hunger for success comes from several components. There is no single formula that explains this athlete. Even today, Djokovic made it clear in Italy that he was using last year’s circumstances “as fuel for this year.” At that time he missed several tournaments, such as the Australian Open and the US Open, because he was not allowed to enter the country due to his unvaccinated status against the coronavirus. He is also a family man, his children Stefan and Tara motivate him, as he highlighted: “I always wanted to act in front of them as soon as they reached the age where they knew what was going on. I think that’s the age now. They are both aware of what is happening and I am very grateful to be the father of these two wonderful angels. In Turin he hugged them both immediately after match point.
Djokovic also seems to enjoy dueling with the younger generation. From the sound of it, he loves to show them boundaries. “When you play against me, you should feel like you have to give me the best tennis to beat me,” he revealed. “That’s definitely what I want to convey to my opponents because it helps them mentally approach the game.” And Djokovic, the eternal strategist and mentalist, is more aware than ever of his experience. “I think the more I win on the biggest stage, the more that kind of aura grows, and I’m certainly happy about that. Of course, it won’t win you the game, but it might give you that little percentage, that little advantage.”
In fact, there are nuances that make him seem almost invincible, especially in the finals. Not only is his ambition and professionalism outstanding, but he also dominates the game like no other. Many perform excellently, but while professionals like the long-haired Alexander Zverev and Andrej Rublyov sometimes give the impression that they rely time and again on their high quality of play, regardless of the opponent, Djokovic looks for details that his opponents might like. hurt.
Others can regularly take off at 210 km/h; Djokovic serves more accurately, in a more unpleasant way, because he usually uses a slight slice. In the first set of the final against Sinner, Djokovic won 20 of 22 points on his serve. His service is perhaps his most underrated stroke. After all, everyone rightly praises his return when his opponent serves. With only these two trump cards, he immediately puts pressure on the other. Often, opponents cannot get into the play with either Djokovic’s serve or his return, they are immediately pushed onto the defensive, get stressed and make the mistake, if Djokovic has not yet hit the ball out of reach with his topspin shots with low error from the baseline of the ball. He’s standing there like a ball machine.
He once scored 14 points in a row against Sinner. The Carota Boys, a group of fans who support Sinner and wear carrot costumes, were also silent. “When you give in a little bit against the best player in the world, it seems like you make a big difference,” the long-suffering Sinner later said.
Djokovic also immediately drew the right conclusions from the group stage defeat. In the second match against Sinner, in the final, he played tactically differently, more offensive, more pressing, he said. Like in the semifinals, when he dismantled Alcaraz 6-3, 6-2. Yes, the teacher showed it to the students, and the question now is what else Djokovic can achieve this way. This week he will help Serbia in the Davis Cup final in Malaga. And 2024? “Well, you can win four Slams and an Olympic gold,” Djokovic said. “We’ll see.” His recording journey will continue no matter what.