Another Australian Open and another Grand Slam added to Novak Djokovic’s sizable trophy cabinet. The Serbian was imperious on his way to claiming his 18th Grand Slam victory, putting him just two short of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer who lead the way with 20 Grand Slam wins each.
Djokovic’s straight-set win in the final against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev was completed in just under two hours and was as comprehensive as it gets. It also cemented Djokovic’s place as the number one ranked player in the world, a position he has held for a record 310 weeks. That was a record that had been held by Federer and as Djokovic looks to move beyond that record, it’s not the only one he is chasing down.
At 33 years old, Djokovic has time on his hands. Federer has just turned 40 and whilst Nadal is only 34, Djokovic senses his time is coming to not only catch but to overtake the two icons of world tennis. In doing so, he may also have one eye on Serena Williams’ all-time Grand Slam record which currently sits at 23.
The French Open
The next opportunity all three will have to add to their Grand Slam total will be at Roland Garros for the French Open at the end of May. Unsurprisingly, Nadal is the outright favourite for the French Open. Betway currently has Nadal at 2.20 to win the French Open and given his history, it’s hard to back against him. Of his 20 Grand Slam titles, 13 have come in Paris and have earned him the nickname, ‘King of Clay’. Conversely, Federer and Djokovic have picked up just a solitary title each at Roland Garros.
There is, however, perhaps some extra incentive for Federer and Djokovic at the French Open. In winning the crown this year, either man would be the first in history to win all four of the Grand Slams twice, another tick in the box for the men vying to be named the GOAT (greatest of all time) in tennis. Nadal has a solitary Australian Open and Federer and
Djokovic are missing a second French Open.
Williams, of course, is still out there competing and has every right to be considered the greatest tennis player of all time. Her 23 grand slam wins have come across a 13-year career of competing in the biggest tennis tournaments of the year and she has multiple victories at all four grand slams. Her last victory came at the 2017 Australian Open and she has since gone on to lose in both the US Open Final and Wimbledon Final in 2018 and 2019. A recent semi-final defeat in the 2021 Australian Open ended her run and quest for a 24th title. Williams will once again compete at Roland Garros in 2021, a title she last won in 2015, hoping to keep her male counterparts at arm’s length.
The upcoming stars
The fact that Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic have remained at the top of the sport for so long is a testament to their own dedication and drive. Back in 2014, the BBC reported a wonderful quote from Nadal, “I think our generation is now on the way out,", said Nadal, after winning the 2014 French Open, "A generation is walking away, and others will replace us."
Almost seven years later, and the three of them have added a further 20 Grand Slam titles between them - so much for being on the way out.
That’s not to say that they are getting things all their own way. There is a new generation of superstars coming through the ranks and once it is time for the three of them to hang up their rackets, there will no doubt be further opportunities for these new stars to add to their Grand Slam collections.
The best of the rest include:
- Dominic Thiem
- Stan Wawrinka
- Daniil Medvedev
- Stefanos Tsitsipas
- Alexander Zverev
Between these five, they have just four Grand Slams (three belonging to Wawrinka who is just missing Wimbledon from his collection). Thiem had a breakthrough year in 2020, winning the final Slam of the year at the US Open. He also reached the final of the Australian Open the same year and has competed twice in the French Open final.
Outside of the big three, Wawrinka is the most successful Grand Slam performer with three titles to his name. Outside of those three wins, however, he has yet to make a final with a handful of semi-final defeats and an early exit in the 2021 Australian Open. He does, however, have an excellent record against world number one Djokovic and his victories in Grand Slam finals shows he has a winning mentality.
Medvedev was comfortably beaten by Djokovic in the Australian Open final, however, he has shown good potential with a semi-final and final appearance at the US Open. He has yet to show any real pedigree on clay or grass so it will be interesting to see how he performs at the French Open in 2021.
With no signs of slowing down yet, the trio of Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic look set to be the names to beat once again at all of tennis’ Grand Slam events in 2021. Don’t put it past them to take a clean sweep between them.