Dream big because you can make it. –Djokovic’s advice to young tennis players

By Roger Childs

Simply the best

In 2022 the Australian government deported him for having said no to that substance and consequently he missed playing in the Melbourne grand slam. This year in January he got his revenge. Novak Djokovic, the best
player in the world, made no secret of the fact that he was out to avenge his 2022 humiliation.

In the final world number two Stephanos Tsitsipas, fought hard in a tough three set match, but the Serb super-star was just too consistent and too good to win 6-3 7-6 7-6.

In so doing Djokovic–

  • won his 22nd grand slam to equal Rafael Nadal’s record
  • picked up a record 10th Australian Open
  • Regained the number one ranking in the world.

Fast forward to Roland Garros in June: Djokovic comfortably won the singles final 7-6 6-3 7-5 against Norway’s Casper Ruud to stand alone with 23 major to his credit.

Great skills and no weaknesses

There are no holes in this man’s game. –Tennis commentator, Cliff Drysdale

This is so true. To beat Djokovic you have to be playing consistently at the top of your game.

The Serb has all the shots to a high level.

  • His reliable service averages over 190kph on the first. His second serve is never easy to
    return as it is invariably highly spun and often kicks up.
  • His ground strokes are very powerful and he hits frequent winners widely angled on the forehand and backhand.
  • He doesn’t play a serve and volley game, however his smash is excellent when needed, and his delicate crosscourt volleys are usually winners.
  • He is also a master of the drop shot and he is usually well placed to volley away returns if they come.

Add to these strengths his incredible fitness which allows him to run down most returns and his ability to work an opponent wide on the backhand and then power a winner down the line on the forehand side.

Consistency, coolness and respect
Djokovic’s other great asset is consistency. Sometimes he starts a match below his own high standards, but he hangs in there and it is rare for him not to finish strongly. Obviously, a critical factor in a match where he has started slowly, is his ability to last the distance is superb fitness.

The Serb also has great on-court temperament and rarely loses his cool. This hasn’t always been the case. In the past he has smashed racquets and on one occasion he thrashed a ball away in disgust and it hit a female line-umpire on the side of the head. Fortunately such temperamental outbursts no longer occur. He does get annoyed with himself if he hits the ball out or into the net, but he now keeps his emotions under control.

A likeable feature of his demeanour is his recognition of quality play by opponents and he will clap on his racquet to acknowledge brilliant shots from the other end.

Rivals for the “Greatest of all Time” accolade

Djokovic is the last of the three legends still playing from the early 21 st century golden age of tennis. The Serb has had intense rivalries with Swiss maestro Roger Federer and Spanish ace Rafael Nadal. Some of the greatest matches of all time have been played by this august group. Many of the battles were in grand slam finals.

Against Federer “the Joker” had 27 wins and 23 losses. Then in the rivalry with Rafa it’s been 30-29 in the Serb’s favour. He is the youngest of the three. As regards having the number one ranking over a period of weeks: Djokovic leads with 388, followed by Federer on 310 and Nadal with 209. Then as ATP Finals go both Djokovic and Federer have won six times each.

So is Djokovic the G.O.A.T.? You be the judge.

Alcaraz and Djokovic

As a result on his win the 2023 French Open he has now reclaimed the number one world ranking. Number two is Carlos Alcaraz who Djokovic beat in the in the semi-final at Roland Garros. The first two sets of that match featured some of the greatest tennis even seen on the Phillipe Chatrier centre court in Paris and featured powerful ground strokes, delicate drop shots, tightly angled volleys and amazing retrievals.

The heir apparent Going into the 2023 Roland Garros grand slam, 20 year old Alcaraz was ranked number one.

Back in April 2022 Carlos Alcarez won the Barcelona Open and then the next month, in his country’s capital Madrid, the nineteen year old Spaniard triumphed again beating Djokovic 6-7 7-5 7-6. At the time the Spanaird was regarded as the great tennis find of 2022. The then world number one Novak Djokovic commented He is the future of men’s tennis and also the present.

Earlier in the year he had also won the prestigious Miami 1000 tournament.

However, the measure of greatness in tennis singles is winning grand slams and Alcaraz could not follow up the Spanish titles with success in the two mid-year majors – the French Open and Wimbledon. Could he show his superiority in the final grand slam of 2022 – the US Open at Flushing Meadows in New York?

Caspar Ruud

He qualified for the final to face Norwegian Casper Ruud. But only just. American Frances Tiafoe took him to five sets in the semi-final. Ahead of the final, one thing was not in doubt, the winner would be a first time grand slam winner and move to the top of the world rankings. It was competitive match, but Alcaraz proved too strong for the Norwegian winning 6-4 2-6 7-6 6-3.

As things stand in June 2023, Djokovic is the undoubted number one, however, things could change at the Wimbledon grand slam in early July.