It didn’t take lengthy for Novak Djokovic to make his intentions clear: All that issues to him from right here on out is catching Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal within the Grand Slam standings.
Neglect about successful different, run-of-the-mill tournaments or enjoying sufficient to retain the No. 1 rating.
18 Grand Slams for Djokovic 🏆
— ATP Tour (@atptour) February 21, 2021
There may be one main objective for the 33-year-old from Serbia. He needs to maintain including to his 18 main championships — he reached that quantity with No. 9 on the Australian Open on Sunday — till he now not trails Federer and Nadal, who share the boys’s document of 20.
“They’ve made historical past already. They made an amazing mark in our sport,” Djokovic mentioned. “Whether or not I take into consideration successful extra Slams and breaking data? After all, I do. And most of my consideration and my vitality from at the present time ahead, till I retire from tennis, goes to be directed (at) majors, making an attempt to win extra main trophies.”
Which is completely high-quality. There is no such thing as a want for pretense.
And there’s completely no requirement that he present as much as compete extra typically than he actually needs or in locations aside from the place he actually needs. If all that issues to Djokovic from a tennis standpoint is accumulating Slams, and enjoying much less regularly may even defend his physique — he had surgical procedure on his proper elbow three years in the past; his 2021 Australian Open practically was derailed by what he mentioned was a torn belly muscle — that’s his prerogative.
It isn’t a lot completely different from what Federer himself or 23-time main champion Serena Williams, for that matter, have accomplished for years.
“I feel 99.9% of gamers — children that get a racket of their fingers — begin dreaming about what they need to obtain. It’s a Grand Slam, successful a serious,” Djokovic defined after his commanding efficiency in a 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Daniil Medvedev in the final at Melbourne Park.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 21, 2021
“I imply, I don’t really feel like I’m previous or drained or something like that,” he mentioned. “However I do know that biologically and realistically, issues are completely different than they have been 10 years in the past for me.”
Linked to that: His newest triumph on the Australian Open got here with the extra bonus of assuring a keep atop the ATP rankings till at the very least March 8.
That’s when he’ll attain 311 weeks at No. 1 for his profession, yet one more than Federer’s complete, one other purpose Djokovic made clear mattered to him.
“When you’re going for No. 1 rankings, you type of should be enjoying your entire season, and you need to be enjoying nicely; you need to play all of the tournaments. My objectives will adapt and can shift just a little bit, which implies that I must regulate, additionally, my calendar,” Djokovic mentioned. “Not should, however I’ll have a chance to do this, which, as a father and a husband, I’m actually trying ahead to.”
One a part of the calculus is that nobody is aware of, after all, whether or not Federer, who hasn’t performed in additional than a 12 months after two knee operations and turns 40 in August, or Nadal, 34, will win extra majors — or what number of extra.
It bears repeating that till Federer, Nadal and Djokovic got here alongside, no man had received greater than Pete Sampras’ 14 Grand Slam titles. Right here we’re, lower than 20 years after Sampras retired, and he’s been surpassed by a trio of males, and by loads of majors.
“We’re speaking about some Cyborgs of tennis, in a great way,” Medvedev mentioned, referring to the longevity and unprecedented success of the blokes generally known as the Huge Three. “They’re simply unbelievable.”
Successful share in Grand Slam singles finals
Nadal 20-8 (71.4%)
Federer 20-11 (64.5%)
Djokovic 18-10 (64.3%) pic.twitter.com/RzsCU6a05k
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) February 21, 2021
Djokovic’s coach, 2001 Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic, predicted Nadal will declare “yet one more, perhaps two” championships on the French Open, the place he collected a 13th final October.
That’s the solely occasion of a person proudly owning extra singles titles from one main than Djokovic’s haul in Australia. Federer’s excessive is eight at Wimbledon.
All have profession Grand Slams.
“Roger and Rafa encourage me. That’s one thing that I’ve mentioned earlier than. I’ll say it once more. I imply, I feel so long as they go, I’ll go,” Djokovic mentioned. “In a approach, it’s like a race (of) who performs tennis extra, I assume, and who wins extra. It’s a contest between us in all areas. However I feel that’s the very purpose why we’re who we’re, as a result of we do drive one another, we encourage one another, we push one another to the restrict.”