Novak Djokovic Is the Eternal Record Breaker

by Oddspunter
Novak Djokovic

The GOAT debate in tennis used to be more of a heated issue, but there’s a growing consensus that Novak Djokovic has put the argument to bed with his incredible consistency. The Serb’s 2023 season was exceptional, as he claimed three of the four Grand Slam singles titles to put his overall number to 24, two ahead of nearest rival Rafael Nadal and four ahead of the retired Roger Federer. 

The trophy statistics in isolation would be more than enough for some. However, there are so many more important numbers that consolidate and cement Djokovic’s place at the very top of the tennis podium. His weeks at the top is far superior to the Swiss, with a gap well over 100 weeks and counting. The closest to him is Steffi Graf at 377 weeks, almost 50 behind and the numbers from the long retired 22-time female singles major champion will not be going up.

More records

Djokovic also extended his record of Masters titles to the 40s, and his victory over Jannik Sinner in the ATP Tour Finals in Turin ensured that he broke Federer’s previous record of six end-of -season titles.  The Wimbledon defeat to Carlos Alcaraz in a fiercely contested final only made the Serb more determined to win the next slam in Flushing Meadows which he duly did.

During the SW19 defence last year, Djokovic claimed jokingly that “36 is the new 26.” While it was amusing to hear at the time, there can be no one better placed to make that comment. He was the man who ripped off his shirt after outlasting the roadrunner Nadal in a near six-hour epic at the Australian Open in 2012. Djokovic’s ability to reinvent, refresh and look after himself with a super strict diet, an intensive training regime and an ability to find his most composed and positive mindset on the court is unrivalled. Age is clearly not a barrier, especially as he has swerved serious fitness issues that have afflicted the other two of the original Big Three.

Still healthy

While Federer had to retire with a long-standing knee issue and Nadal’s court time continues to reduce after years of wear and tear, Djokovic’s ability to excel in his dotage is second to none. The man from Belgrade has won half of his 24 majors in his 30s, seven of them coming in the last three years.  Only an inspired Alcaraz in 2023 and Medvedev in 2021 at Flushing Meadows stopped the complete set.

By the first week of April, Djokovic became the oldest World No. 1 in PIF ATP Rankings history, a record previously held by 20-time slam champion Federer at 36 years and 321 days.  Djokovic has secured 31 tour-level titles since turning 30 in 2017 and can still outlast most of the younger generation. Federer never beat him in a major slam final after 2007. If a tennis wagerer could see all the playing metrics without knowing the result, there was no surer sports bet than the Swiss winning the 2019 Wimbledon final. However, Djokovic’s ability to win through sheer staying power and resilience was crucial.

Longevity unmatched

It is this quality that elevates Djokovic above all comers. His longevity at the top is directly allied to a huge commitment to looking after himself emotionally, spiritually, and physically, with a particular emphasis on breathing, techniques, positive visualization, and the understanding that now hitting a fourth decade does not mean a terminal decline as it might have meant a few decades ago. His connection with the other mid to thirtysomething legends in other sports like Virat Kohli and LeBron James are indicative of an elite that understands how to succeed late in their career. Djokovic has redrawn what is possible in tennis.

As for the future, any talk of retirement will be parked as he looks to stamp a legacy that outstrips everything that has gone before. If he retains his US Open title in September at the age of 37, he will be the oldest male Grand Slam singles by a month. If he wins the Olympic title in Paris and secures a first-ever gold singles medal in that competition, he will become the oldest male winner in IOC history. 

In an interview with Jim Courier, Djokovic talked about his legacy and how his younger self might come up short against his current version. “The 2008 Novak would be hungry like a wolf, young boy, irritating boy to me…. but the experience is on the side of the older guy. It would be a good match. I think the 36-year-old wins because of the pressure moments.”  If there was someone in world sport to put the house on for such a scenario, Djokovic would be the clutch player for the generations.

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