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Novak Djokovic Stands Alone at the Top of the Tennis Mountain

Novak Djokovic in action at the ATP Rome Open.

Novak Djokovic has done it. He has now won a record 23 Grand Slams, winning each of the Majors at least thrice. With Rafael Nadal out with injury, there was a sense of inevitability about the 36-year-old Serb overtaking the Spaniard at Roland Garros itself. He achieved the feat by making short work of Casper Ruud in straight sets in the final of the French Open on Sunday, June 11th.

It has not been a smooth ride for Novak Djokovic in Paris this year:

However, there has hardly been any hint of invincibility about the way Djokovic won his third title in Paris. The way he scraped through against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Karen Khachanov suggested that he was on the wane, which is quite natural for an athlete of his age.

He then played out two very close sets with his heir apparent Carlos Alcaraz before the latter suffered cramps that reduced their match to a mere formality. Even in the final against Ruud, Djokovic lost the first three games of the match, but bounced back to win it in tie-break and then not taking the foot off the pedal.

As the Norwegian lost his initial vim and energy and started playing slices more often, Djokovic started launching into his inside-out forehands more often to suck the life out of Ruud.

He has often started matches in a patchy way in this year’s French Open, hitting unforced errors and allowing his opponents to dominate him from the baseline. However, in the end, he has done just about enough to shut them out of the reckoning, as he has done throughout his career.

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The Serb cements his status as the greatest:

One can now state without any reservation that Djokovic is the greatest male tennis player that ever lived. He has the most Grand Slams and also the most Masters 1000 titles. He is quite close to achieving a mind-blowing 400 weeks as the No. 1 player in the world and has proved his excellence across all surfaces and against every kind of opponent in his unparalleled career.

The way he kept bouncing back from temporary setbacks in this year’s French Open reaffirms his gargantuan mental fortitude. It, however, also points to the mental ineptness of the younger players. Actually, it is a combination of both. There has probably never been a mentally stronger and a better big-match player than Djokovic, but his younger opponents seem to be seriously lacking in the hunger required to get the better of him.

With very few players in the world actually being able to play well on grass, Djokovic looks all set to win his eighth title at Wimbledon next month. His status as a tennis God standing at the top of the mountain and looking quite sympathetically at the lesser mortals among his peers, is confirmed either way.

Main Photo Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports


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