By Leighton Ginn
After winning the French Open, it’s time to put Novak Djokovic into the conversation of the greatest players ever in tennis whether you want to or not.
His resume at this point in his career is just stellar.
- Third man to hold all four Grand Slam singles titles in one year, joining Rod Laver, who did it twice in 1962 and ’69, and Don Budge in ’38
- One of eight men to have the career Grand Slam, which was also accomplished by Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Roy Emerson and Fred Perry.
- Djokovic’s 12 major titles ties him with Roy Emerson. He only trails Federer (17), Nadal (14) and Pete Sampras (14).
There are some other intangibles to consider with Djokovic.
Only Djokovic and Laver won their Grand Slams in the open era, which began in 1968.
Djokovic came of age during the Golden Age of tennis with Federer and Nadal, the two winningest players in tennis when it comes to major titles. And they’re still playing … well, when healthy.
It’s funny how underplayed Djokovic is. He isn’t embraced as Federer and Nadal. It seems like Djokovic’s four straight majors snuck up on people, where there was a lot of hoopla with Serena Williams with the same accomplishment last year.
But his results are hard to overlook.
Many of his major titles have come by having to beat Federer, Nadal and Andy Murray — all certain Hall of Famers.
It has become a much deeper debate on who is the greatest of all time.
But if Djokovic continues to play at this high level, he could put an end to the debate.
Achieving the Nole Slam gives Djokovic an argument point over Federer and Nadal since they never won four in a row. And neither has all-time greats like Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, etc.
If Djokovic completes the classic Grand Slam, it would be an epic achievement. He would only be No. 2 in terms of total major wins, but a Grand Slam in the Open era would give him a huge edge.
Right now, Djokovic has won five of the past six major titles. If Djokovic wins the next two, he would tie Don Budge for most consecutive Grand Slam titles with six. Remember, Budge’s came in the amateur era of 1937-38.
Djokovic would have to be the favorite to win Wimbledon and the US Open as of now. And there’s also the Olympics, which could give him a Golden Slam.
That’s not to say Djokovic doesn’t have some tough oppositions. Andy Murray has been challenging Djokovic in several finals and is one of the best on clay. Stan Wawrinka can be dangerous at the US Open, and Federer and Nadal will always be dangerous even if they are both coming off injuries.
But accept it. Djokovic is an all-time great who has a chance to become the greatest in a short amount of time.