By winning the US Open, Novak Djokovic will attempt to complete the first calendar-year men’s singles Grand Slam since 1969 and become the all-time men’s leader in Slam titles.
Due to injury, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Juan Martin del Potro, and 2020 winner Dominic Thiem will not be in the competition when the tournament opens Monday on the New York hardcourts.
The primary roadblocks in Djokovic’s quest for a 21st career Grand Slam title are a trio of young 20-something talents: Russia’s second-ranked Daniil Medvedev, Greece’s third-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Germany’s fourth-ranked Olympic winner Alexander Zverev.
Djokovic’s incredible 2021 run began at last year’s US Open, when he was defaulted out of the tournament in the fourth round against Carreno Busta after striking a ball that accidently struck a line official in the throat.
Since then, the 34-year-old Serbian has not lost a Grand Slam match, defeating Medvedev in the Australian Open final, Tsitsipas in the French Open final, and Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the Wimbledon final.
Djokovic remarked, “It’s incredibly fortunate for me and fantastic that it’s all coming together in the same year.” “I didn’t expect it, but I’ve always wanted to achieve the greatest things in sports.”
Only Australian Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969, and American Don Budge in 1938, have achieved a calendar-year men’s Slam.
“What he’s accomplished this year is incredible,” Nadal added. “Without a doubt, I believe he is capable of doing it.”
Djokovic once held all four Slam titles at the same time, winning the 2016 French Open for the fourth time in a row to complete a career Grand Slam.
Djokovic has won nine Australian Opens, six Wimbledon titles, two French Opens, and the US Opens in 2011, 2015, and 2018.
He has held the world number one position for a record 335 weeks, and he hasn’t played since losing the Olympic bronze medal match to Spain’s Pablo Carrena Busto.
Nadal, who shares the men’s record of 20 Slam titles with Federer and Djokovic, sees no reason why the Serbian star won’t finish what he started.
“Well, he’s won three already.” So, without a doubt, if you win three, you can win four, right? He completed 75% of the task. Why not? He’ll be playing on hard court, which is probably his best surface.” According to Nadal.
Since Federer’s first major at Wimbledon in 2003, the “Big Three” of Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic have won 60 of the previous 72 majors, although six of the 12 majors won by others have come in the US Open.
RIVALS ARE PREPARED FOR NOVAK
Runner-up in the 2019 US Open Djokovic is the overwhelming favorite, according to Medvedev, who won a tuneup title in Toronto.
“Novak will undoubtedly be the leading competitor,” Medvedev stated. “He’s already won 20.” He has a lot of experience. So he’s the underdog, but I believe he enjoys it.
“I’m going to give it my all.” If I can maintain my current level of play, I have a decent chance of going far. “All I want to do is play well.”
Tsitsipas is pleased with his ranking and appearance in the Roland Garros final.
“Three is a crucial number,” Tsitsipas explained. “I wouldn’t say there’s any pressure, but it does lend some worth to the work you’ve done.” It motivates me to keep going, to want to go the additional mile.”
Zverev, the runner-up at last year’s US Open, won the final major tuneup championship and a gold medal in Cincinnati, giving him a 12-match winning streak heading into the Flushing Meadows fortnight.
“I’m starving to death.” “I’m still not satisfied,” Zverev stated. “I’m excited to… show that I’m still one of the finest players.”