Djokovic and the fight against himself

“What are you still doing here?” asked Daniil Medvedev after losing the US Open final to a 36-year-old Novak Djokovic. “I will continue playing as long as I keep winning,” replied the Serbian with his twenty-fourth Grand Slam still warm under his arm.

For some time now, Djokovic no longer fights against anyone but himself. Gone are the debates about who is the best in history and the comparison of him with Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer. It is impossible to argue, with the data and titles in hand, that Djokovic is not the best. And any hint of doubt he takes care of clearing it up.

Djokovic is the man with the most Grand Slams, with 24, two more than Nadal, who will return to the competition next year, and four more than Federer, who retired a year ago. He is tied with Margaret Court, who won 24 matches 50 years ago and will be able to surpass her at the next Australian Open, where she is the absolute king with ten titles.

Furthermore, this Monday he begins his 390th week as number one, more than any other tennis player, man or woman, in history. The defense of his throne will not be easy, because between now and the end of the year he will put 2,850 points at stake, for the Tel Aviv and Astana titles – which he will surely lose by not playing these tournaments -, and the ATP Finals – which he won undefeated. To this we must add the Paris-Bercy final. However, the Serbian has the advantage that this year there will be an Asian tour, so there is a bonus of 1,500 points if he wins in Beijing and Shanghai.

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In a record like Djokovic’s, number one is practically an anecdote, but he is guaranteed 396 weeks as the best and if he retains the title until next November 20 he will reach 400 weeks at the top. A nice decoration for the resume.

As are the 39 Masters 1,000 -three more than Nadal and eleven more than Federer-, the milestone of being the only one to win them all and having done so twice, the rivalries won against the Swiss (27-23) and the Spaniard (30 -29), having been the closest to equaling Rod Laver, with four years with three Grand Slams (2011, 2015, 2021 and 2023) and being the only one who has won all the Grand Slams on at least three occasions .

Challenges to meet

This does not mean that he does not have challenges yet to meet, such as separating himself from Federer and having more masters titles than anyone else – they are tied at six -, reaching Jimmy Connors’ 109 titles, one of the most difficult records – he has 96 -, and get an Olympic medal to decorate your display case. Since his first participation in Beijing 2008, Djokovic has accumulated a bronze in the Chinese event, two fourth places, in London 2012 and Tokyo 2020, and a first round in Rio de Janeiro. Paris 2024, with the tournament at the Roland Garros venue, is one more motivation for Djokovic not to hang up his racket.

But without a generation capable of displacing him, the Serbian has no reason to leave on the horizon. As long as he supports a body that has been reimagined over the years and that, aside from the elbow operation in 2017, he has hardly suffered any serious problems. “As long as he keeps winning, I’m not going to leave this,” said the Serbian, whose next stop is this week, without rest, in the group stage of the Davis Cup. There, Djokovic will lead Serbia in a group in which they will face Spain, South Korea and the Czech Republic. With a title in 2010, Djokovic also has his Davis passport sealed, but he will be in Valencia with his team.

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