It isn’t a query as to who the male tennis GOAT is anymore. Lately Novak Djokovic’s almost-robotic dominance as he continues to age has pushed him forward of his contemporaries and predecessors. One in every of Djokovic’s biggest challengers to the crown conceded the throne not too long ago when Rafael Nadal acknowledged the 36-year-old Serbian is on high of the all-time checklist. The stats converse for themselves now that the 4 majors of the calendar yr are accomplished. Djokovic, the present No. 1 participant on the planet, has held that spot for almost 400 weeks throughout 12 completely different years. He’s additionally received a document 24 Grand Slam singles titles. Within the ultimate stretch of Djokovic’s profession, his mission isn’t to find out whether or not he’s the very best, it’s to increase that margin for the following challenger to his mantle.
There’s no must make arguments for Nadal, Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, John McEnroe, or Jimmy Connors. Djokovic beats all of them. The closest resume to Djokovic’s belongs to Federer. Head-to-head, they’re fairly rattling even, solely with Djokovic’s consistency outpacing Federer’s by a smidge. Djokovic holds a 27-23 document over Federer, getting the higher of the Swiss famous person towards the tip of his profession, whereas Federer gained a considerable early benefit whereas Djokovic was a teenager. That’s the identical approach Djokovic is now the outdated head beating up on the following wave of tennis greats. And figuring out who would be the subsequent grizzled veteran to attempt to outlast a future era is easy.
Djokovic already holds victories over Carlos Alcaraz and Ben Shelton, who I see as the 2 most probably candidates to be in Djokovic’s spot in a dozen years. Alcaraz has extra momentum behind him as he’s already defeated Djokovic as effectively and has two Grand Slam titles earlier than he’s in a position to purchase a drink after competing within the US Open, in order that $22 Gray Goose Honey Deuce should wait. And for journalistic functions, in fact, I’ve had one. It’s scrumptious, particularly with how a lot of a sweatbox Arthur Ashe Stadium can turn into. At this yr’s US Open, Shelton introduced himself to the tennis world as a potential future Corridor of Famer. He turns 21 in a number of weeks.
I’ll give the nod to Alcaraz being the one who can subsequent problem Djokovic for his throne. Alcaraz’s path to sooner or later besting Djokovic within the GOAT dialog is determined by how a lot floor he could make up earlier than the elder statesman retires. Federer dominated a younger Serbian and it took till Federer misplaced a step after the age of 35 for Djokovic to make up all that floor. If Alcaraz can preserve it even towards Djokovic till he received’t should face him any longer, it’ll be a neater route into the 20s for particular person Grand Slam titles. It’s not a matter of early indicators of expertise for Alcaraz, as there’s by no means been a participant who has proven the outright athleticism that Alcaraz has earlier than turning 21. The one query mark is long-term sustainability.
Djokovic staking his declare as tennis’ GOAT is nearly a slam-dunk reply that Nadal didn’t miss up. Past his assertion, the proof is simple, with an argument over generations or lack of competitors rendered irrelevant. Djokovic in his prime might beat any of the lads I listed earlier persistently. His sport isn’t fairly or flashy, but it surely’s efficient. And that’s why Djokovic has been in a position to leverage as a lot from his profession as he has. Alcaraz is the other and his chase to be tennis’ GOAT is simply starting.