Novak Djokovic is our seventh best singles player in the world. He has won two Wimbledon titles, a US Open and two Australian Opens. Earlier this year he won the Australian Open again and took the ATP World Tour Finals crown for a second time. He is a 13 time Grand Slam champion and only the second man ever to win the same title seven times. Djokovic is also the only man to have won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles consecutively.
Expectations are already high after Wimbledon 2018, when Novak Djokovic became the first man since Rod Laver to win the tournament three times in a row. With a historic milestone, Djokovic aims to win the all-time Slam title five times. But there is more. His greater goal is to become the first man in the Open Era to win Wimbledon five times.LONDON – Novak Djokovic is in danger of losing his singles title at Wimbledon, at least if the big boys have their way. He was the heavy favorite from the start of the tournament, and after winning the tournament for his 41st birthday, he was the heavy favorite for the tournament. He is a Grand Slam semi-finalist and it will take something extraordinary to stop him in his pursuit of his sixth and 20th Wimbledon crown. The Grand Slam titles in general need to stop.
But Djokovic himself, despite expectations, takes nothing for granted. After Wednesday’s 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Marton Fucovic, Djokovic’s path to the championship is not just a matter of controlling (and winning) the match, but also controlling his mind.
Sometimes things seem unreal, but I try to live in the moment, he said on centre court after listing his achievements – 315 Grand Slam wins in singles, 10 semi-finals at Wimbledon. It was his hundredth. Grand Slam victory in grass track singles. As remarkable as these achievements are, previous performances have become the norm for Djokovic.
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In a field interview, he was asked: How would you describe this victory? To which one fan replied: Boring. With a slightly nervous smile, he replied: You’re putting pressure on my answers.
Instead of talking about his position in the race for the title of best tennis player of all time between himself, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, he instead talked about how important Centre Court is to him.
I know some statistics, he said, but I love this place with all my heart, body and soul, I have been involved in this sport since I was four years old.
This was Djokovic’s only trip to Wimbledon. A win for him is to be expected, as is Lewis Hamilton’s dominance of the Formula One world. This inevitably leads to more support for foreigners.
While some feed off the All England Crowd, such as Andy Murray (who targets random people in the crowd to support his fervor), Nick Kyrgios (who shrugs his shoulders for others) or Federer (a fan favorite who lost in easy sets Wednesday), Djokovic’s motivation comes from within.
He’s psychologically stronger than any other player on the planet, Chris Evert, 18-time Grand Slam women’s singles champion and current ESPN-TV analyst, said Thursday. We saw it when he beat [Stefanos] Tsitsipas at the French Open. He lost two sets – when he plays a five-set match and loses two sets, even two sets and a break, he just waits out the storm and knows he’s going to get a chance and a window will open for him to jump in. Once his opponent finally plays a bad point or two, he stands up, takes control of the game, knows he can win, and ends the game. And that’s what he does so well. He maintains his composure when he loses, and he has the conviction and confidence that he can rebound and that his opponent will not continue to play at such a high level.
After his stunning victory at Roland Garros, Djokovic is ready for the challenge of making tennis history, but he has vowed not to lose sight of what is going on now.
If I start putting my attention and energy into these speculations, discussions and debates, Djokovic said after his Round of 16 victory over Christian Garin, I feel like it’s distracting me from what I think is my priority right now, which is to take it step by step, day by day, and do what I feel good about, what I have confidence in, and ultimately what will best prepare me for the Grand Slam finals.
He may not have the body he had in his 20s and 30s, but after beating Kevin Anderson in easy sets in the second round, Djokovic, 34, said he had changed his priorities at this stage of his career and decided to focus on Grand Slams rather than chasing ATP points and winning more tournaments in general.
It’s no secret that Djokovic is driven by his success, and he’s well aware of where he stands behind himself, Federer and Nadal in the number of Grand Slam singles titles among men. But he has built a status so that honors and numbers are a byproduct of his success, not the main focus when he enters Center Court.
Of course I understand that people like to argue about who is better. … I think there’s a lot going on outside the tennis court, Djokovic said at the start of the championship. But once I’m on the field, I try to focus and eliminate all distractions. I think I’ve developed a mechanism over the years that allows me to do that. Everyone has their own way of centering, of concentrating, of focusing their energy, as it were, on what is most important, the present moment.
I have my methods, my resources. So far it’s working, so I’ll try to keep it up.
Djokovic’s next opponent on Friday is Canadian Denis Shapovalov. It will be the toughest challenge for Djokovic, but the Serbian champion has a plan for the occasion.
And that’s part of what allows Djokovic to claim the title of best male tennis player of all time. It’s not about having a resume based solely on trophies; it’s about how he handles what happens to him and how he doesn’t cling to his successes.
I’m making my own way, my own journey, my own story, Djokovic said. I am honored to be a part of the history of this sport I love. Like I said on the field, I know a lot of stats. I don’t know them all. But they motivate me even more to play my best tennis in the competitions that matter most in our sport.
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