Allstate Journal

Novak Djokovic widens gap against his top rivals

Walking through the hallways of the broadcast compound in the hours after his third Wimbledon win, Novak Djokovic paused to sign autographs for a few straggling fans. It’s one of the few things that can halt the world No. 1 and Wimbledon champion these days. His baseline game at its best on Centre Court on Sunday afternoon in a 7-6 (1), 6-7 (10), 6-4, 6-3 victory over Roger Federer, the 28-year-old Serbian now has nine Grand Slams to his name and a stranglehold — it appears — against his top rivals.

More dangerous for challengers such as Federer, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka and others is how fresh Djokovic feels. He has a 48-3 record in 2015 and two Slams tacked onto his résumé, vaulting him to sole possession of eighth on the all-time list for most Grand Slam titles. He’s now ahead of Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl among others. “I’m 28. I feel good. I don’t feel old. I have hopefully many more years in front of me,” a smiling Djokovic said after his win. “I’m going to try to push my own limits and see how far I can really go with titles and with myself playing on this high level.”

That statement is a chilling one to the rest of the tennis world. “He’s moving up” in history, Federer, 33, said in his post-match news conference of Djokovic, with the two sharing 20 wins apiece in 40 career meetings. “He’s clearly making a big name for himself having won as many times now as he has in these different Slams.” Federer continued: “Staying injury‑free now for him is crucial. Clearly he’s going to be one of the top guys (in history). Where? We’ll still have to wait and see. I’m sure he still has many more great years ahead of him.”

For now, Djokovic appears to have a great 2015 ahead of him. Secure as the No. 1-ranked player in the world, he has points to make up in the U.S. summer swing, where he didn’t win a single title last year, including at the U.S. Open, where he was a semifinalist. “We saw with Stan Wawrinka in Paris the type of match that it takes to beat Novak right now,” Roddick said. “Stan went in with a game plan to hit a winner basically anytime he had two feet under him. To execute that over the course of three or four hours against the best defensive player on earth, that’s really hard. I don’t think you can take two or three players and make them the favorite over Novak for the U.S. Open.”

 

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