Novak Djokovic has been made stronger by his US Open disqualification and his Australia deportation and will go on to win more Grand Slams, according to Mats Wilander in a warning to 22-time Grand Slam winner Rafa Nadal. And the Serb’s former coach has claimed he has targeted reaching 30.
Djokovic claimed his 21st Major title with his seventh Wimbledon triumph to overtake Roger Federer for the first time and move within one of Nadal in the male GOAT race. His refusal to get vaccinated against Covid is set to see him miss the US Open while he is banned from Australia – his most successful Slam – after he was booted out in January.
But the Serb, 35, has now won Wimbledon in four consecutive years and is dominating like Rafa Nadal at the French Open. And whether you think his previous controversies have been unfortunate or not, Djokovic certainly enjoyed luck over this last fortnight with his two biggest rivals for the Wimbledon title – Rafa Nadal and Matteo Berrettini – pulling out injured and ill.
He produced a masterclass against world No 40 Nick Kyrgios in the final. And seven-time Grand Slam winner Wilander said: “Djokovic now has 21 Grand Slams and I would be extremely surprised if he remains there.
“Since his disqualification at the 2020 US Open, he has experienced huge fluctuations in fortune in Grand Slams. But all that has made him stronger. He has an exceptional force of character. He turns adversity to his advantage.”
His former coach Bogdan Obradovic told BBC 5 Live: “He wants to come to the number 30, which is three-zero. That is what Novak wants. So, the next five years, he will play. The next five years, he will probably have 20 chances to get those numbers. Let’s see.”
Twenty seems very optimistic with Djokovic’s immediate playing schedule unclear even for his team. His head coach Goran Ivanisevic said: “I am going to go on vacation from today, I don’t know till when. Maybe (President Joe) Biden will change his mind.”
But unless the USA relaxes its vaccine policy for foreign visitors – and Djokovic reiterated he will not get jabbed – it is possible his next appearance will be back in London at the Laver Cup on September 23. “I don’t really feel any pressure or necessity to play a certain schedule,” he added.
“I achieved the historic weeks at No 1 (373 weeks) that I worked for all my life. Now that that’s done and dusted, I prioritise Slams and big tournaments really and where I want to play, where I feel good. Could be Laver Cup, Davis Cup is coming as well. I love playing for my country.”