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Novak Djokovic tennis perfection

Novak Djokovic has surely now cemented his legacy as tennis perfection


As Novak Djokovic lay in his player’s box openly weeping after winning his 22nd major at the Australian Open, it never felt more clear that we were looking at the man who will win the Grand Slam race.

The triumph put Djokovic level with Rafael Nadal in the all-time race, although it’s clear he has far more tennis left in him than the Spaniard.

Immediately, discussion turned to the ever-ubiquitous debate of who is the greatest of all time, or ‘GOAT debate,’ if you prefer. For many, it’s Djokovic, and it is an increasingly tough argument to contest.

Anyone watching him in Australia, or Wimbledon last year, or at pretty much any other point in his career, would have to acknowledge that he possesses a game that is as close to perfection as the game has eve seen.

While all greats have a signature element of their game to admire, Djokovic is just equally exceptional at it all. He is, probably, the first man to play the game without any chink in the armour, not weakness to probe.

That doesn’t just go for his technique with the racket either, but also mentally.

“Novak, I don’t know what to say, the numbers say it all,” Stefanos Tsitsipas said after losing his second Grand Slam final to the Serbian. “It’s been an unbelievable journey for you and I admire what you have done for our sport.

“He’s one of the greatest in our sport – the greatest to have ever held a tennis racket. I’d like to thank you for pushing our sport so far.”

Watching the match, it was hard not to sympathise with Tsitsipas. The Greek is a quality young player who played a superb tournament, and yet he struggled to make any impression on the final at all.

It wasn’t that he was playing poorly, it was just that every question he asked of Djokovic received a comprehensive answer. It prompted him to over-push, convinced the only chance he had was to paint the lines on every point. The errors came, the pressure ramped up. When it did, Djokovic went into lockdown mode, playing effortlessly brilliant no-miss tennis and challenging Tsitsipas to do something special to beat him.

Novak Djokovic - Australian Open 2023

It’s something we have seen countless times before, and it went the same way the majority of the others have.

Whether Djokovic is the greatest will ultimately depend on how you define ‘great.’ Perhaps you consider Rafael Nadal’s ability to overcome so many injuries to achieve what he has to be a greater measure of greatness than what Djokovic offers. May be Roger Federer’s style and grace and the way he almost singlehandedly reinvented tennis by inspiring fresh generations is the weightiest consideration.

Greatness will always be subjective in that way and rightly so. Tennis does, after all, belong to us all and we all take different joys from it.

Surely, though, there can no longer be any doubt about who the best player is to ever play the game? If you were designing tennis perfection from scratch, the result would be Novak Djokovic.

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