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Novak Djokovic (1987-), Serbian Tennis Player, and the Undisputed #1 in the World as of 2016


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Well, it's happened: There's no more "Big Three" (and I don't think there ever was a "Big Four"), and Novak Djokovic just won the 2016 Australian Open to remove all doubt that he has risen to be the #1 tennis player in the world. And quite honestly, I don't see that changing anytime soon, short of a catastrophic event.

Between being six-years younger than a still-great but declining Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal's frame giving way, there is nobody out there right now who is even close to Djokovic, and he is a legitimate threat to overtake Federer's record of 17 majors (after winning the Australian Open, Djokovic now has 11). He could theoretically pass Federer *next year*, although that's highly unlikely.

In today's power-baseline game, Djokovic is the perfect tennis machine, and one of the fittest people I have ever seen (yes, I think he probably "has some help"). He's basically out there doing wind sprints for hours on end, he can do a full split, he practices yoga, he's gluten-free - and he is absolutely driven to play for Serbia which he seems to view as a "bigger cause" than personal glory.

Djokovic has gotten to the semi-finals in 22 out of the past 23 Grand Slams. In the last 7 Grand Slams, his record is 47-2.

His game relies on pure fitness, so he'll break down eventually, but right now, I don't think he's ever been in better physical condition - this man seems to be in almost perfect shape.

"Novak Djokovic: Can Australian Open Champion Become Greatest Ever?" by Aimee Lewis on bbc.com

Yes, he most certainly can.

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I've been thinking about The Djoker more and more - who can possibly beat this man right now?

So often, an athlete gets "hot," and pundits everywhere, well, just remember Linsanity (that one word just saved me a paragraph of typing).

But this is different - Djokovic's ascension has been slow, and his three primary foes have been utterly dispatched by him *just this year* - his first set against Nadal took 30 minutes, his first set against Federer took 24 minutes, and his first set against Murray took 30 minutes. He's not just beating these guys; he's destroying them.

Federer is aging, Nadal is breaking, and Murray was never in the same league with those three. Who else is there? Nobody that I can think of - in a couple of years, surely someone will rise on the horizon, but I don't even know who it's going to be yet.

He has never won the French Open, and I guarantee that with the possible exception of 1) his family and 2) world peace, a title at the French Open is the most important thing in his life. Barring injury or illness, I don't see how he's going to lose, even though the slow, red clay of Roland-Garros is easily his weakest surface. One thing's for sure: Anyone who beats him is going to be very, very tired when the match is over.

Unlike most flashes-in-the-pan, Djokovic's ascension has taken a decade - like his game, it has been methodical and relentless, and now that he's on the peak of the mountain, he's standing alone, with nobody else in sight.

"Five Reasons Why Novak Djokovic Could Win All Four Grand Slams In 2016" on foxsports.com.au

"Djokovic, Yet To Win A French Open, Names His 2016 Goal 'The Djoker Slam'" on tennis.com

Nole wants the French, and he wants it *badly*. Earlier, I jokingly said that he could mathematically surpass Federer's 17 Grand Slam titles in 2017, but I'd be lying if I said that thought hasn't been creeping into my mind these past couple of days, even though nobody of any sanity would dare predict one person winning the next seven Grand Slams - that just doesn't happen.

Or, at least it hasn't yet.

It should also be mentioned, when discussion of the G.O.A.T. surfaces, that Djokovic now has a career winning record against both Nadal (24-23) and Federer (23-22). Read these quotes about him!

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On 2/2/2016 at 7:57 PM, DonRocks said:

"Djokovic, Yet To Win A French Open, Names His 2016 Goal 'The Djoker Slam'" on tennis.com

Nole wants the French, and he wants it *badly*. Earlier, I jokingly said that he could mathematically surpass Federer's 17 Grand Slam titles in 2017, but I'd be lying if I said that thought hasn't been creeping into my mind these past couple of days, even though nobody of any sanity would dare predict one person winning the next seven Grand Slams - that just doesn't happen.

Or, at least it hasn't yet.

Djokovic is in the process of dismantling Andy Murray who, if it wasn't for Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal, may well be considered the greatest tennis player in history. I'm not sure I've ever seen someone play as well as Djokovic is against Murray in the 2016 French Open final going on right now.

I remember seeing Andre Agassi play Yevgeny Kafelnikov about twenty years ago, and thinking to myself, 'This is possibly the highest level of tennis ever played,' and at the time, it quite possibly was. But this is a whole other level - I'm wondering now if it's *humanly* possible to play better than Djokovic is playing right now, and I mean even one hundred years from now, when athletes are bigger and faster, and equipment is more advanced. What I'm witnessing right now seems almost impossible - as if the fitness of Lance Armstrong was combined with the skill of Stephen Curry.

Possible steroid issues aside (and that's a very heavy weight for me to push away, but a weight existing only by circumstantial evidence of his humanly impossible fitness level), Djokovic's likability is every bit the same as Federer's, and if he were to pass Federer's Grand Slam record, it wouldn't bother me at all - Djokovic is a gentleman with humor and humility, a polite sportsman who respects his opponents, and a relentlessly loyal and devoted son of his native Serbia:

"Serbia Euphoric as 100,000 Fans Welcome Nole Home!" on novakdjokovic.com

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I remain a loyal devotee of Federer but I gotta admit that Djokovic is convincing me that he may well be the best player ever.  A couple more years of this level and it'll be indisputable.  Even at this juncture, its a legit argument.

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2 hours ago, Steve R. said:

I remain a loyal devotee of Federer but I gotta admit that Djokovic is convincing me that he may well be the best player ever.  A couple more years of this level and it'll be indisputable.  Even at this juncture, its a legit argument.

I wonder if, thirty years from now, people will be talking about Federer the way people are talking about McEnroe now (and people will be talking about McEnroe the way people are talking about Laver now, and people will be talking about Laver the way people are talking about Pancho Gonzalez now - as a ghostly legend whom a few old-timers remember as being phenomenal). Fortunately, video helps with this.
   
As an extension, I wonder if Federer will be the final World #1 to regularly hit a one-handed slice backhand - people might be reminiscing fondly about that beautiful shot a generation from now, as superhuman players who aren't even born yet bash everything as hard as they can, with heavy topspin off of both sides.

When I first became injured, I was *so psyched* to make this tremendous comeback and compete at the national level, but the game has changed so much *just since I became injured* that doing this now seems impossible to me, even if I wasn't in any pain - it's awesome, humbling, and heartbreaking.

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11 hours ago, Keithstg said:

I wasn’t sure Djoker could make a bad pr year worse for himself but darn if he didn’t manage to do it! Ridiculous.

I saw the replay ten times - it's nothing that couldn't have happened to any competitive tennis player; the odds of this happening were microscopic. Djokovic has already issued a statement here (he must have a PR team working on things such as this - I don't see how he could have mustered the acuity to have written this the very same day it happened).

For those following the Grand Slam Titles race, the implications here are enormous, although I suspect that mid-decade, Djokovic will have nevertheless pulled ahead of both Nadal and Federer - this will be eating at him until he does, as it was essentially a gifted Grand Slam title. A Djokovic-Nadal French Open Final this year will be must-see TV.

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It’s incredibly strange for me to be watching on tv & not being there for at least several days, perched on the back courts watching non-“stars” & great doubles.  However, due to this, I now get to watch the major matches that I never see &, since both Denis & Felix make it to my screen, I’ve watched them both - great viewing.

At any rate, this also let me watch Djoker’s match.  I agree that the stupid mistake that got him removed could’ve happened to any player not paying attention to anything but their inner frustrated voices.  However, you also have to look at Djoker’s luck at NOT accidentally blasting someone with his ferocious slam against the side wall only minutes earlier.  A slight mis-hit on that, going a foot or so higher, and...

That first outburst shot should have been enough for him to pay closer attention to the frustration build up & self manage.  Or maybe he should learn to channel his bad behavior to his mouth a la Conners or Johnny Mac.  

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7 hours ago, DonRocks said:

I saw the replay ten times - it's nothing that couldn't have happened to any competitive tennis player; the odds of this happening were microscopic. Djokovic has already issued a statement here (he must have a PR team working on things such as this - I don't see how he could have mustered the acuity to have written this the very same day it happened.

True, could have happened to anyone. And yes, Djokovic did release a statement, but stormed out without facing live media. Tough year on the PR front for Nole.

Think Kyrgios made a great point when asking fans to vote on how many years Nick would be suspended for if he made the mistake. Will be interesting to see how much (or little) Novak is punished.

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