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Tennis legend John McEnroe said it would be a “big surprise” if Novak Djokovic did not win 25 major slams.
Djokovic, 34, has set a record for the 20th men’s title defeating Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in the Wimbledon final on Sunday, matching the record held by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Only Margaret Court, Serena Williams and Stevie Graf have more, but McEnroe expects Djokovic to outshine them as well.
“Djokovic is playing better than he’s ever played,” he told BBC Sport.
“I think he’ll probably win four or five more, obviously based on staying healthy.”
With the Olympics and US Open looming, he could emulate the 1988 Golden Slam, although he says he is “50/50” is about playing in Tokyo.
“Djokovic has so far put himself ahead of everyone else in terms of his ability to embrace what he does – in terms of making history – and ability to execute under a lot of pressure,” said McEnroe, who won seven Grand Slams. Singles titles.
“You’re trying to break records at all – there’s a lot of pressure. He’s able to give his best tennis at this point.
“You expect that to go on for another two years, unless someone steps forward and realizes how wonderful they are.”
What distinguishes “goats”?
For some, the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) discussion is frivolous and detrimental to each player’s accomplishments in and of itself.
Just looking at the numbers – where live recordings, ratings and other titles must also be taken into account – doesn’t tell the whole picture.
It is not possible to determine their different playing styles, how they adapted their games, their physical and mental strength, nor how they overcame the challenging moments that have permeated their entire career.
But it does provide a framework for discussion.
“It’s unbelievable because in all other sports you have debates. Lionel Messi or Maradona? Michael Jordan or LeBron James?” McEnroe said.
“It’s rare to have three players playing at the same time and it would be hard to say that they are not the best three players ever.
“It depends not just on the number of disciplines, which is obviously a big thing, but the totality of their work. It’s amazing.
“Finishing the year number one in the world is important, but people like to talk about records – in all sports, not just tennis. There is a lot to talk about with these guys.
“If someone had said to me when I was playing that there would not only be one man winning 20 Majors but there would be three, I would have said the same thing as what I said to the referee in 1981 – you can’t be serious!
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Boris Becker coached Djokovic between 2013 and 2016, with the German helping him win six of 20 majors.
The Serbian does not hide the fact that he is motivated by the desire to break records, saying that it is a “privilege” and his “primary goal”.
“Novak is a great student of tennis history,” Becker told BBC Sport. “He knows a lot about Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg and McEnroe – and a little bit about my history, of course.” “He knows who did what
“This is important to him.
“Where does he get the motivation? It’s just from competing with the history of record books.
“It’s similar to Roger and Rafa. It’s a sign of greatness.”
Goran Ivanisevic, the 2001 Wimbledon champion, is now part of Djokovic’s coaching team and believes the controversy will end if the Serb wins the US Open in September.
“For me, Novak is the best ever. He is writing history. He will do it at the US Open,” the Croatian said.
“I strongly believe he will. He will win all fours in one year.”
The most difficult task at Roland Garros and Wimbledon
Djokovic’s success means he has become the first man to win the French Open’s Wimbledon double since Nadal did so for the second time in 2010.
Since Laffer hit the milestone in 1969, only three men – Borg, Nadal and Federer – have been able to repeat it in the open era until Djokovic.
Six-time Grand Slam champion Baker says the successful switch from clay court at Roland Garros to grass court at Wimbledon is “the most difficult task in tennis”.
“To come from a season on clay for two months, where I won the final in Paris and then I won Wimbledon, is unbelievable,” said the German, who has reached the semi-finals three times at Roland Garros.
“Especially this year, where Novak had two days to recover and regain his senses, and then play on a completely different surface.
“It’s almost impossible. Borg has done it three times, Nadal twice, Federer once and now Djokovic – once again speaking a lot about the quality of these players.”
So what makes the transition so difficult?
“You always have a certain mindset when you play a tennis match – how do you want to win,” Becker said.
“On clay, you usually win a game if you push your opponent into a non-forced foul – that’s the mindset. Or if you overtake or outpace your opponent.
On the grass, it’s just the opposite. You usually win a match when you hit more winners than your opponent. You go for an ace, you go for a win, and you go for a more dangerous shot.
“It’s a completely different mentality. Plus, it’s a completely different movement and a completely different gameplay.
“The matches are shorter on grass, they change faster. It’s like western penalty shootouts on grass – whoever shoots faster tends to win.
“Most of them found the movement very difficult on the grass, we saw earlier in the week when a lot of players slipped. The grass wasn’t slippery, it was because there was a completely different movement on the grass.
“Then there’s the situation on the court – on the clay you want to be four or five feet behind the baseline, and on the grass you’re going to slide so you have to be more forward.
“It’s almost a completely different game. That’s what makes Novak’s achievement this year so impressive.”