ATP Tour

Djokovic braced for record Grand Slam run

2016-06-06 17:29
Novak Djokovic (AP)

Paris - Having sealed his place as one of the greatest players of all time, Novak Djokovic was on Monday backed to keep breaking Grand Slam records with little seemingly standing in his way.

The 29-year-old captured his first French Open on Sunday to become only the eighth man to complete a career Grand Slam.

More impressively, he is just the third man to hold all four majors at the same time and the first since Rod Laver back in 1969.

That is something even his eternal rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have failed to do achieve.

"He will be the big favourite again at Wimbledon and at the tournament after that and all of those after that one," predicted three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten who was on hand Sunday to witness Djokovic end a three-final losing streak at Roland Garros finals with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over Andy Murray.

That was Djokovic's 12th Grand Slam title to add to his six at the Australian Open, three at Wimbledon and two at the US Open.

He also became the first man since Jim Courier in 1992 to clinch the Australian and French Opens back-to-back and therefore put himself in a position to grab a calendar Grand Slam which has only been achieved three times -- by Don Budge in 1938 and Laver in 1962 and 1969.

"Well, I don't want to sound arrogant, but I really think everything is achievable in life," said the Serb.

"I'm trying to grasp and I'm trying to cherish, obviously, these moments right now. Whether or not I can reach a calendar slam, that's still a possibility."

He is right to be confident as he tightens his grip on the men's game.

His victory over fellow 29-year-old Murray was his 24th in 34 meetings with the British world number two and eighth in 10 clashes at the Slams.

He leads Federer 23-22 and is 26-23 against Nadal.

Declining powers 

Federer still holds the record for Grand Slam titles at 17 while Nadal is second on the all-time list at 14.

But Federer will be 35 in August and has not added to his Slam total since winning Wimbledon in 2012.

Nadal's last major was at Roland Garros in 2014 while Murray remains firmly stuck on two, the last of which came at Wimbledon in 2013.

Djokovic has won six of the last eight Grand Slams -- his only losses coming to Kei Nishikori in the semi-finals of the 2014 US Open and his 2015 French Open final heartbreaker to Stan Wawrinka.

The winning mentality is also hot-wired into his DNA. He has now won 29 successive matches at the Slams bettering even his run of 27 which ended in 2011.

As well as time, Djokovic has physical fitness and endurance on his side.

By contrast, Federer's streak of 65 successive Grand Slams, stretching back to 1999, ended when a back injury ruled him out of the French Open while Nadal, plagued by injuries throughout his career, withdrew from Roland Garros after two rounds with a serious wrist injury.

Despite their declining powers, Djokovic insists he owes Federer and Nadal a great debt for pushing him closer to a historic calendar sweep which could also become a 'Golden Slam' should he win the Olympics in August.

"These two guys -- and Andy, as well -- the rivalries with all three of the guys have definitely helped me to become a better player and helped me achieve all these things," said Djokovic.

"Nadal and Federer were so dominant in the sport when Andy and myself came in in the mix. But, again, at the beginning I was not glad to be part of their era.

"Later on I realized that in life everything happens for a reason. You're put in this position with a purpose, a purpose to learn and to grow and to evolve.

"Fortunately for me I realized that I need to get stronger and that I need to accept the fact that I'm competing with these two tremendous champions."

Read more on:    atp tour  |  novak djokovic  |  tennis


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