The modern version of tennis began in 1968, when the segregation between amateurs and professionals ended to result in the so-called ‘Open era’. Tennis fans are often drawn to discuss the greatest player of this era. It’s a tricky terrain as not only has technological advancement influenced the game through racquet materials that are discernibly superior to wood, progress in other areas such as diet and fitness also makes comparisons tough.
Moreover, conversations about the greatest are tinged with romanticism which tends to overshadow the achievements of some players. Novak Djokovic is one such player who, just on the basis of his performance over the 18 years that he’s been a professional, should be considered the greatest of the ‘Open era’.
His record is staggering. With 19 Grand Slam titles and being the only player in this era to win a double career Grand Slam, this Serb tennis player should be right on top in terms of his track record alone. On top of the Grand Slam track record, he also has won 84 ATP singles tournaments, which includes everything that is considered a major tournament.
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Djokovic’s misfortune is that he has achieved all of this in a period where two other truly great players captured popular imagination, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Djokovic may not have the elegance of Federer or the court presence of Nadal, but if his achievements came in an era when both were top ranked players, it means he has surpassed two all-time greats. The tennis world needs to place his achievements in proper perspective. We are lucky to be watching the best of the ‘Open era’.
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