Serbian, Novak Djokovic, is currently ranked as the number one tennis player in the world by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). He has been in that position for a record 336 weeks, and has a joint-record six times (although that could change soon) finishing No.1 at the ATP year-end. So it will come as no surprise to many tennis fans to find out he could be set to break more records, and earn a place in the history books forever.
And this could all go down at the US Open, the final major title of the calendar year that makes up the grand slam. The other three majors that make up the grand slam for those unaware are the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. Djokovic has already won the previous three tournaments this year, and if he manages success in the Men’s Singles at the US Open, he will be the first person since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four titles that make up the grand slam in a calendar year.
There have been others since, who have held all four titles simultaneously. But these have involved players winning them across two years. So winning the final two tournaments of one year, and the first two of the next, as an example. Meaning that if Djokovic pulls this off, it will be the first time in 52 years that someone will have managed this feat.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, Djokovic currently stands level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, in the number of grand slam titles won at 20. So not only would he be the first man in 52 years to win a calendar grand slam, but he could also become the all-time leader for the number of men’s single titles won at 21. Arguably putting him in contention to be considered the greatest male tennis player of all time.
But is this a reasonable feat that Djokovic can pull off? Well, if the movements on odds tracker are anything to go by, it seems everybody is heavily betting on the Serbian to make history. He is the clear favorite for the tournament right now, despite his disappointing exit from the Bronze medal match against Spain’s Pablo Carreno in the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
So far, so good
The US Open has actually started, and has been going for over a week now with the qualifiers starting on the 24th August. As it stands, we are currently into the second round of the tournament. And it’s so far, so good for Djokovic. In Round 1, the Serbian was drawn against Danish tennis player Holger Rune. And comfortably went through, winning 3 sets to 1 (6-1, 6-7, 6-2, 6-2).
In the second round, he is favorite to beat Dutch player Tallon Griekspoor, who had a more nervy first round to go through, beating German Jan-Lennard Struff 3 sets to 2 (2-6, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5). Unlike Djokovic, Griekspoor is not seeded, and on paper, is at a massive disadvantage. But it wouldn’t be the first time that an upset was caused at the US Open, so nothing is guaranteed.
The biggest challenges
If Djokovic gets through to the third round, the competition will begin to get tougher, as many of the lower ranked players will have made their way out of the competition. Of those who have progressed so far, there are three main players who pose a threat to Djokovic’s chances of making history. Firstly, the Greek, Stefanos Tsitipas, who currently sits ranked 3rd in the world, just two places below Djokovic.
There is also the one man who stands between the two of these in the rankings, Russia’s Daniil Medvedev who sits as the number two seed in the US Open. But he’s not the only Russian who is a threat, with ranked fifth in the world, Andrey Rublev still in the mix too. If either of these two players go out, we’ve no doubt they will support their fellow countryman to go all the way, especially with the tensions that usually exist between the US and Russia, they’ll no doubt love to lift a trophy on foreign soil.
What next if he does succeed?
If Djokovic manages to pull off what no other man has done since Rod Laver, he’ll go down in the history books. But will he continue after that? He will have achieved almost everything possible, except for a GoldeN Slam, which would also consist of winning an Olympic Gold medal on top of the calendar grand slam. However, sadly, that ship has sailed this year, and he would have to wait until the next summer olympics to accomplish that. By which time he will be getting on and may even think about retirement.
Still, one of his main rivals in Federer is older than he is, and he is still going. So he may not give up just yet. But if he goes the same way as the great Roger does, his titles will soon dry up, as new, younger players come in who are quicker off the mark.