PARIS: Having sealed his place as one of the greatest players of all time, Novak Djokovic was on Monday backed to keep breaking Grand Slam records with little seemingly standing in his way.
The 29-year-old captured his first French Open on Sunday to become only the eighth man to complete a career Grand Slam.
More impressively, he is just the third man to hold all four majors at the same time and the first since Rod Laver back in 1969. That is something even his eternal rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have failed to do achieve.
“He will be the big favourite again at Wimbledon and at the tournament after that and all of those after that one,” predicted three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten who was on hand Sunday to witness Djokovic end a three-final losing streak at Roland Garros finals with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over Andy Murray.
That was Djokovic’s 12th Grand Slam title to add to his six at the Australian Open, three at Wimbledon and two at the US Open. He also became the first man since Jim Courier in 1992 to clinch the Australian and French Opens back-to-back and therefore put himself in a position to grab a calendar Grand Slam which has only been achieved three times — by Don Budge in 1938 and Laver in 1962 and 1969.
“Well, I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I really think everything is achievable in life,” said the Serb. “I’m trying to grasp and I’m trying to cherish, obviously, these moments right now. Whether or not I can reach a calendar slam, that’s still a possibility.”
He is right to be confident as he tightens his grip on the men’s game. His victory over fellow 29-year-old Murray was his 24th in 34 meetings. He leads Federer 23-22 and is 26-23 against Nadal.
Djokovic insists he owes Federer and Nadal a great debt for pushing him closer to a historic calendar sweep which could also become a ‘Golden Slam’ should he win the Olympics in August.
“These two guys — and Andy, as well — the rivalries with all three of the guys have definitely helped me to become a better player and helped me achieve all these things,” said Djokovic.