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By Shahid Decide
“I’m going to deal with the following match,” says Novak Djokovic after reaching the US Open ultimate, “prefer it’s the final of my profession.”
If ever you weren’t certain what his war-cry would sound like, there it was — spoken with a smile in a crowded Arthur Ashe Stadium. It’s a well-documented indisputable fact that Djokovic enjoys chasing and setting new data. And when he’s labored his method to get into such a place, why not?
On this period of males’s tennis which will by no means be repeated once more, three names have risen increased than anyone else. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic stand on a pedestal constructed on 20 Grand Slam titles every. They usually look down on the comfy hole on the remainder of the tennis area — the one gamers that come near them are the injury-ravaged duo of Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray, each with three titles to their identify, and each, with nice respect to them, properly previous their prime.
However Djokovic is on the cusp of going higher than his biggest rivals. The importance of the ultimate on Sunday, in opposition to the gifted unorthodox Russian Daniil Medvedev, is not only the attainable twenty first Slam. It’s the prospect to turn out to be the primary male participant in 52 years to win all 4 Majors in a single calendar 12 months.
The final man to do it, the good Rod Laver in 1969, was there within the VIP field, watching Djokovic overcome Alexander Zverev within the semi-final. Little doubt the legendary Australian will probably be there to look at the ultimate as properly, ready to see if historical past will probably be created. However Djokovic received’t be bothered by any of it.
“I do know all people needs to speak about historical past, I’m simply attempting to lock into what I do know works for me,” he stated.
What works for him is the dogged defence — probably the very best on the earth — coupled with an attacking recreation that has turn out to be sharper and extra devastating up to now few years. Federer has the sleek aggression, Nadal has the blistering top-spin, Djokovic, a defensive baseliner, has the consistency of play and an unassailable psychological toughness to go together with it. How else would any individual overcome two championship factors in opposition to Federer at Wimbledon to seal the title as he did in 2019.
That, after all, was his sixteenth title. He’s now seeking to cap off a outstanding 2021 season along with his twenty first title and settle the entire ‘Biggest of All Time (GOAT)’ debate.
But this has been within the offing. Among the many Massive 3 of tennis, Djokovic was properly anticipated to be the one to carry the report of most Grand Slam titles by the point the trio known as it quits. The
Serbian has an all-court recreation that will get him previous quick or gradual onerous courts, makes him a pressure on the slowing grass at Wimbledon, and his tireless working and tenacity makes him an ideal match on clay.
And as soon as he finds his groove, seldom has he been denied. We noticed it when he turned the primary man since Laver to carry all 4 Slam titles on the similar time, when he received Wimbledon and the US Open titles in 2015 and the Australian Open and French Open Majors in 2016. However that wasn’t the identical as doing all of it in the identical 12 months, as he can now.
And if it does occur, he’ll do it in probably the most telling method.
Ever since Nadal received the French Open in 2015, Roland Garros has been his area. Earlier than this 12 months, he’d misplaced on the Parisian clay simply twice — to Robin Soderling in 2009 and Djokovic in 2015. No participant had ever crushed Nadal and gone on to win the title on the similar version of the Slam. Until this 12 months.
The Spaniard had dismantled Djokovic within the 2020 ultimate, however once they met within the semi-final stage this 12 months, it was Djokovic who pulled off a convincing four-set win. Within the ultimate he overcame a two-sets-to-love deficit to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas.
When the time comes, the 34-year-old is aware of the best way to shift gears like no different. He’s been doing it all through the US Open as properly. He dropped the primary set to Kei Nishikori, Jenson Brooksby, Matteo Berrettini, after which Zverev within the semi-final. After which he takes over from there.
He’s presently received 27 Grand Slam matches this 12 months. It’s a giant achievement in itself, and is one thing any tennis participant, wherever on the earth could be pleased with. However not Djokovic.
“Why ought to I be joyful? The job isn’t accomplished. That’s the form of angle I’ve.” If ever you wished to listen to one other Djokovic war-cry, there it was.