The greatest? ‘Monster’ Djokovic may have settled the debate

MELBOURNE, Jan 30 — In drawing stage with Rafael Nadal’s document 22 Grand Slam titles, Novak Djokovic reignited the discussion about who is the biggest men’s tennis participant of all time.

For some, the Serb settled it with his report-extending 10th Australian Open up crown.

Certainly his vanquished opponent on Rod Laver Arena thinks so.

“He’s the best that has ever held a tennis racquet, for guaranteed,” claimed Stefanos Tsitsipas immediately after getting rid of 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5).

It appears unavoidable that Djokovic, who returned to world number one particular with his dominant victory in Sunday’s closing, will gain more Slams.

At 35 he is a yr youthful than wonderful rival Nadal and apart from for hamstring trouble early on in Melbourne, he appears to be in exceptional actual physical shape.

In distinction, Nadal’s battered body broke down all over again at the Australian Open up and he limped out with defeat in the second round, his title defence in excess of and the Spaniard in pain with a hip personal injury.

Roger Federer, the third of the “Big Three” who have dominated men’s tennis for the earlier 15 years, retired very last 12 months with 20 Grand Slam titles.

Federer will usually be the “people’s champion” in the eyes of a lot of for the reason that of the swish way he played, but it is Djokovic who seems to be primed to pull absent with the document selection of men’s major crowns.

‘Soak it in’

Djokovic appears to thrive on suffering and feed off adversity.

Two yrs in the past he won in Australia even with tearing stomach muscles, this yr it was a hamstring that did not allow for him to practise involving matches.

If not for Djokovic’s vaccine standing, which saw him deported from Australia a 12 months back and prevented him competing at the US Open, he may well perfectly have previously been on 23 or 24 Slam wins.

“Haha, I explained to you. We created a monster… Sat on my couch and relished the overall present. Soak it all in,” Nick Kyrgios, crushed by Djokovic in the Wimbledon remaining past yr, tweeted on Sunday.

Nadal, at 36, may be in a position to get better from his newest harm and even discover the will to obtain a different triumph on the clay of Roland Garros in May well.

But he is a new dad and as the calls grow from family members and close friends to stop punishing his physique, he could bow out faster rather than later.

There is a concept that he could connect with it quits at this year’s French Open.

It is his favourite tournament and a 15th title there would supply a tale-reserve ending.


Djokovic only appears to be obtaining improved with age and the “Next Gen” of youthful expertise are even now not able to get in close proximity to him about 5 sets.

His coach, Goran Ivanisevic, thinks there are a several extra yrs at the best — and far more Slams — to come.

“Definitely two, three extra a long time,” Ivanisevic explained to reporters soon after Sunday’s closing.

“The way he’s having care of his system, the way he methods all the things, the foodstuff, it is incredible. It’s unbelievable the amount.”

Some tennis fans will always get convincing to take Djokovic as the biggest, despite what the amount of Grand Slam titles says.

He polarises belief, whilst Federer and Nadal are universally loved for how they are on and off the court docket.

There are those who see a thing far too calculating in the intense, brooding Djokovic.

Controversy is under no circumstances much absent.

Last year it was his Covid vaccination position. This calendar year it was his father Srdjan posing with a lover keeping a Russian flag showcasing Vladimir Putin’s experience.

Ahead of that, Djokovic’s notorious default from the US Open in 2020 for petulantly swiping a ball which hit a woman line decide laid his character bare, reported the critics.

But Djokovic supporters say people attributes are what have driven him to glory.

Djokovic evidently felt impacted by the controversies this year and talked honestly about them, while in advance of he may well have just batted thoughts absent.

It “hurts him and me” he explained immediately after they resolved that his father would not be courtside to see him earn the Australian Open.

It was a single of the reasons an psychological Djokovic identified as Sunday’s title “the greatest victory in my life”.

The Grand Slam numbers really do not lie. But gaining common acceptance from tennis supporters as “the greatest” might be an even even bigger achievement. — AFP