The big news this week is that Novak Djokovic has equaled Steffi Graf’s record long-standing record of 377 weeks at No. 1. It might seem innocuous, especially in light of his recent escapades – claiming his 10th Australian Open and a record-equalling 22nd grand slam crown.
Djokovic tends to make the ridiculous look easy but this latest achievement must be celebrated for several reasons.
Is the Big Three still really a thing
Victory at the year’s first Slam has provided the perfect riposte to the naysayers who still perceive the Serb as the third wheel when compared to the media darlings of Federer and Nadal.
However, the mere fact that he has spent more time at No.1 than both Federer and Nadal – who entered the ATP in 1998 and 2001 respectively – is all the more impressive as he made his debut much later in 2003.
The notion of a Big Three seems more tenuous by the day as Federer has departed the scene and an injury-prone Nadal’s best days seem behind him.
Djokovic, in contrast, seems to have a lease on his tennis life. He has taken his recent controversies and disappointments and somehow risen above the hate and vitriol leveled against him.
It’s time for even his fiercest critics to finally give him his flowers, if only for his tenacity and never-say-die-attitude which has fuelled his ascent to tennis immortality.
The future still bright for Djokovic – even at 35
What’s even scarier for the Serb’s immediate rivals, is that there seems to be no end in sight to his dominance. For all the talk about the readiness of Tennis’s next generation to assume the mantle -especially the emergence of Carlos Alcaraz – the truth is that even these young guns seem miles away from consistently beating the Joker.
A fit and injury-free Djokovic could be a major thorn for the next-gen for years to come; even at the spritely age of 35, he seems in total control of his career and seems destined to go out on his terms.
Who knows what his eventual reign at No.1 will finally be? It could be a mark so ridiculous that it might never be bested.
Much like the career of a man known more for controversy, it seems, than his outstanding play.