March 15, 2021
In all the fanfare over Roger Federer’s fascinating return, we haven’t forgotten Novak Djokovic.
We just wanted to wait until we could say it: six years!
Yes, the incredible Serb has now been at the very top for a total of six years, or 312 weeks.
Think how extraordinary that achievement is.
This is the era of Federer and Rafael Nadal, not to mention the formidable Andy Murray.
Yet Djokovic has reigned for longer than any of them.
To reach the pinnacle, even for a few weeks or months, is quite amazing.
Murray rates that tricky climb among the greatest of his career. He knows what it took to get there.
He treasured every moment he had at the summit.
Without disrespecting the wonderful Murray, however, what Djokovic has done almost belongs to another world.
To dominate for so long. To then fall away mentally and physically, even to be written off by some. But to return to the peak of tennis so emphatically once more.
This is beyond the limits of normal human strength and endurance.
Novak, we salute you.
Djokovic is the master of his art. Elasticity in defence, totality of technique, steely mental strength in high-pressure moments…the others can boast some of these attributes but not all.
And yet, ironically, a man who has never won a Grand Slam is lurking in the shadows.
Daniil Medvedev could even topple Djokovic by August, if a certain series of scenarios were to unfold.
That’s the nature of the ranking system. You do so well one year, and it becomes harder to amass points the next year.
The Russian was recently humbled by Djokovic in the Australian Open final. But he can see more points up for grabs, simply because he wasn’t as brilliant as Novak at some of the biggest venues last year.
You wouldn’t bet on Djokovic stepping aside, though. He has already told Medvedev to wait two more years.
Daniil may have to do just that. He is still learning how to cope with the biggest occasions.
That’s not to take anything away from the highly likeable Medvedev. He has the winning habit and he deserves to be the new world number two.
It’s a welcome shake-up in a long-established pecking order. The next generation is coming!
Your name had to be Djokovic, Federer, Nadal or Murray to be world number two in the last fifteen years or more.
So congratulations Daniil!
Sooner or later your time will come for Grand Slam glory. The others will continue to fight you all the way, of course.
Murray still wants to be part of the big-time.
Like Federer, Andy will do everything he can to peak in perfect time for Wimbledon 2021.
But for now, Murray is ready to set his sights on another sizeable occasion – Miami.
The popular Brit has been handed a wild card for Miami and couldn’t be happier after celebrating the birth of his fourth child.
He told “People” why Miami is a perfect event for him: ‘It’s a city I love, and I’ve spent a lot of time there over the last 15 years, I feel comfortable.
‘But over the next few months, I want to play matches – especially against the top players – work on my game and climb the rankings. I want to get back to playing a sport I love.’
Ideally, Andy would like to reach a level that makes it easier to negotiate the first week at Wimbledon 2021.
Then who knows what might be possible at his beloved All England Club?
But Murray, like Federer, Nadal and Medvedev, will look at the rankings right now and know deep down exactly who the boss of tennis is these days.
That’s not to say Djokovic can’t be beaten.
So many great players will be trying to get the better of Novak at Wimbledon 2021.
But for now, we should all just applaud his achievement.
Six years. Wow.