The world No 1 secured his 20th Grand Slam title after victory over Matteo Berrettini in the men’s Wimbledon final; all three players are now level on 20 singles Grand Slam titles and Novak Djokovic could achieve 21 – and the calendar grand slam – at the US Open
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 12/07/21 9:16am
Novak Djokovic has credited Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for making him the player he is today and vows to “have a shot” at securing a calendar grand slam.
After winning a sixth Wimbledon title, and the 20th Grand Slam of his career at the All England Club, the world No 1 has the ability to add the US Open to his collection later this year and win all four Grand Slam titles in a single calendar year.
Djokovic was asked what it meant to draw level with Federer and Nadal on the same number of Grand Slam titles following his victory on Centre Court.
“It means that none of us three will stop [on 20]! That’s what it means,” Djokovic said with a smile on his face.
“I’ve mentioned this before, many times, I have to pay a great tribute to Rafa and Roger. They are legends of our sport and they are the two most important players that I ever faced in my career.
“They are, I think, the reason that I am where I am today. They’ve helped me realise what I need to do in order to improve to get stronger mentally and physically, tactically.
“When I broke into the top 10 for the first time, for three or four years I lost most of the big matches that I played against these two guys. Then, something shifted at the end of 2010/beginning of 2011, and the last 10 years have been an incredible journey that’s not stopping here.”
Djokovic said he started to believe he could equal Federer and Nadal’s all-time record some time ago.
“I probably started thinking about trying to reach the record of most Grand Slams won, most weeks at No 1 historically, probably about, two to three years ago. Before that, it seemed a little bit out of reach,” the 34-year-old said.
“I’ve always kind of believed that I could play my best tennis in Grand Slams and give myself a good chance to win any Slam really, on any surface, because I know what I’m capable of.
“I know I have a very complete game that has proven to be successful on all surfaces in the past.
“But only the last two-and-a-half, three years I started to realize that actually I can reach the most weeks of No 1, which was my primary goal actually in the last two years, and also Grand Slams.
“I feel like in the last couple of years for me age is just a number. I’ve said that before. I don’t feel that I’m old or anything like that.
“I feel like I’m probably the most complete that I’ve been as a player right now in my entire career.”
It’s really fortunate for me and incredible that it’s all coming together in the same year. That’s something that I didn’t expect, but I always dream of achieving the biggest things in sport.
Djokovic’s final victory over Berrettini means a Calendar Grand Slam is now firmly on the cards. The only player in the Open Era to have achieved that feat was Rod Laver back in 1969.
“I could definitely envision that happening,” Djokovic said, about winning the forthcoming US Open and emulating Laver.
“I’m hoping and I’m going to definitely give it a shot. I’m in great form and obviously playing well.
“For me, playing my best tennis at Grand Slams is my highest priority at this stage of my career so let’s keep it going.”
This year’s US Open will welcome fans back into the stands after last year’s tournament was unable to have supporters present.
Nadal has already accepted a wild card into the Citi Open in Washington to start his preparations for the Grand Slam, while Federer’s plans have yet to be revealed.
Djokovic has yet to decide if he is going to play in the Tokyo Olympics and said he was disappointed to hear the news spectators would not be present at the Games.
“That’s not great news,” he said about the competition being played in front of empty stands. “I received that news yesterday or two days ago. That was really disappointing to hear.
“I also hear that there’s going to be a lot of restrictions within the village. Possibly you would not be able to see other athletes perform live. I can’t even have my stringer that is very important part of my team. I can’t have a stringer. I’m limited with the amount of people I can take in my team as well.
“I’ll have to think about it. Right now, as I said, my plan was always to go to Olympic Games. But right now, I’m a little bit divided. It’s kind of 50/50 because of what I heard in the last couple days.”