Immersive Function: How Djokovic Turned the Longest-serving Champion in ATP Historical past | ATP Tower
The Sultan of Serbia was again on observe and in 2019 he overtook Connors and Lendl. In 2020, he defended his throne, going 41-5 within the strangest and most mentally difficult season in tennis historical past, passing his childhood hero, Pete Sampras, alongside the best way. He spoke to the American legend concerning the difficulties of staying on prime of the Nitto ATP Finals in London, expressing his awe at how Sampras managed to complete six years in a row as year-end No.1.
“Staying # 1, ending seasons as # 1, like Pete mentioned, is a paramount achievement and the quantity of dedication it’s a must to undergo in your life and the way it’s essential set up your self, not simply on the pitch, however off the pitch, it is nice, ”he mentioned.
As he coped with this stress through the years, there has all the time been an enormous fish – an elusive white whale named Roger Federer – to pursue. The Serb has stalked Federer for his complete profession. Roger moved as much as primary at 22, Novak at 24. Novak managed 100 weeks within the lead at 26, Federer at 24. Federer hit 300 weeks at 31, Novak at 33.
Whereas he might very nicely win extra majors than any participant in historical past, Djokovic has been swimming in Federer and Nadal’s wake for years. These legends have legions of passionate followers, who naturally rooted themselves in opposition to the upstart Serbian, whose emergence dented the prospects of their heroes.
Killing different fan favorites empowers Djokovic, who lifts his chin and his recreation when wanted. He was underrated for a lot of his early profession, which makes his accomplishments even sweeter. And so, when he is handed Roger Federer this week for many weeks at No.1, it is actually the fruits of a lifetime of work, sacrifice and dedication to his craft. The document clearly means the world to him.
“In our sport, profitable [the] most Grand Slam tournaments and being # 1 for so long as attainable are [the] two larger targets, ”mentioned Djokovic after passing Sampras final yr.
Nobody has needed to work more durable to achieve the highest than Djokovic. Early in his profession, he did not get many free factors on his serve, and he not often blasts an opponent from the sector with forehands of 90 mph. He is acquired a full recreation powered by world-class health and motion, however his best energy has all the time been psychological. His unimaginable capability to focus and keep calm on huge factors, and go into “ lockdown mode ” throughout tie-breaks, has made him the participant he’s.
Remarkably, Djokovic stayed on the prime for thus lengthy in the course of the golden age of tennis, wrestling and infrequently overcoming two of the game’s best legends, and a number of different future halls of famers, akin to Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro, Stan Wawrinka. , Dominic Thiem and others. He has a profession profitable mark in opposition to all of those gamers, to not point out Federer and Nadal as nicely.
“It actually excites me to stroll the trail of the legends and giants of this sport.”
Alongside the best way, he impressed an unimaginable tennis increase in Serbia and the Balkans. There at the moment are seven juniors from the previous Yugoslav republics (together with 4 from Serbia) ranked within the High 100 of the ITF World Tennis Tour junior rankings.
Because the 2021 season approaches, quite a lot of tipsters believed challengers like Thiem and Daniil Medvedev might battle Djokovic this yr. The Serbian responded by profitable his ninth Australian Open title, sidelining Medvedev in straight units within the remaining.
If Djokovic hears the refrain of opponents writing him untimely tennis obits, watch out. At 33, he’s nonetheless in good condition. And his dedication to health, vitamin and yoga will seemingly go away him able to compete on the highest stage for years to return. He’s six years youthful than Federer and the prospect of him following the Swiss lead and enjoying for a number of extra years must be of concern to another participant with designs on the No.1 pole he sees as his throne.
However will he keep hungry sufficient to have a very good 311 weeks on the prime? Why not? There are nonetheless data to be damaged. He is now two majors behind Federer and Nadal within the all-time Grand Slam title race, and he nonetheless wants 28 extra tour-level titles to eclipse Jimmy Connors all-time mark of 109, though Federer and Nadal didn’t end profitable. Is. Finally, his assault on the game’s document books hinges on endurance, a top quality he has demonstrated in spades for years.
In any case, even when he by no means wins one other recreation, Djokovic’s story is one which has been nice for the game. Throughout his early years on tour, his stage of health was not the place it’s in the present day and he needed to retire from quite a lot of matches. At one level, he felt he might need been born on the mistaken time and hinted that he might by no means supplant Federer and Nadal.
However he has developed into the hardest and most unperturbed competitor within the sport. The truth that he could emerge from a war-torn nation with little tennis infrastructure, from a household of modest means with out deep ties to the game, illustrates that the following nice tennis champion might come from n ‘ any nook of the world. Gencic noticed the potential in him at an early age, however nonetheless, Djokovic was not born a champion. He fought to achieve the highest, enhancing with each impediment, and fought more durable than anybody to remain there.
“It actually excites me to stroll the trail of the legends and giants of this sport,” mentioned Djokovic. “Realizing that I received my place amongst them by following my childhood dream is a pleasant affirmation that if you do issues out of affection and fervour, something is feasible.