Monday, June 17, 2024

‘It’s disrespectful towards all great champions’: Djokovic on GOAT label after 23rd Grand Slam title

After capturing the historic achievement of winning a record 23rd Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, Novak Djokovic said he doesn’t want to call himself the greatest as it will be “disrespectful towards all the great champions of different eras”.

The Serbian defeated Norway’s Casper Ruud in straight sets on Sunday to become the first player to win all four majors at least three times.

Djokovic’s title run in Paris, where he defeated Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals, means he will return to No. 1 in the ATP Rankings on Monday for a record-extending 388th week.

In the post-match presser, when asked, “How does it feel to be the greatest male player in history?” Djokovic said: “I don’t want to say that I am the greatest, because I feel, I’ve said it before, it’s disrespectful towards all the great champions in different eras of our sport that was played in completely different ways than it is played today,” he replied.

“So I feel like each great champion of his own generation has left a huge mark, a legacy, and paved the way for us to be able to play this sport on such a great stage worldwide.”

With his victory, Djokovic moved one clear of Rafael Nadal (22 Majors) and Roger Federer, who retired last year having won 20 Grand Slam titles, in the major race.

The 36-year-old Serb also discussed his admiration for Federer and Nadal when comparing achievements and said the two stars have defined him as a player.

“I have always compared myself to these guys, because those two are the two greatest rivals I ever had in my career. I have said it before many times that they have actually defined me as a player, and all the success that I have, they have contributed to it, in a way, because of the rivalries and the matchups that we had.

“Countless hours of thinking and analysing and what it takes to win against them on the biggest stage for me and my team. It was just those two guys that were occupying my mind for the past 15 years quite a lot. In a professional sense. It’s amazing to know that I’m one ahead of both of them in majors,” said Djokovic.

Djokovic is still hungry for more. The Serbian is halfway to becoming the first man to win the Grand Slam, claiming all four majors in the same season, since Rod Laver in 1969.

In 2021, the Serbian won the year’s first three majors before losing in the final of the US Open.

“The journey is still not over. I feel if I’m winning Slams, why even think about ending the career that already has been going on for 20 years. I still feel motivated. I still feel inspired to play the best tennis in these tournaments the most… I look forward already to Wimbledon,” he said.

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