Tennis grand slams: Who is the greatest of all time?
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Novak Djokovic’s secret to success is down to him working hard to become a complete player, Andy Murray believes. The Serb is currently competing at the US Open. And he’ll go up against Jenson Brooksby tomorrow in their round of 16 showdown at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Djokovic has been in fine form at the US Open so far.
Holger Rune and Tallon Griekspoor were beaten in the first and second rounds respectively, with Kei Nishikori then dispatched on Saturday evening.
Djokovic goes up against Brooskby tomorrow looking to move one step closer to winning a 21st Grand Slam of his career.
And Murray has now lifted the lid on the Serb’s secrets to success, insisting his dedication to becoming a ‘complete player’ sets him apart.
“He always had lots of qualities on the court, had a very solid all-around game,” he said recently.
“But … I don’t think many people would have predicted that he would go on to win 20 grand slams, trying to do what he’s going to do here.
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“If you look at his game over the years, the things he’s improved – he has turned himself into a complete player.
“He plays great on all surfaces. He has an underrated serve. He’s the best returner of all time.”
Djokovic hasn’t been shy when it comes to talking about his goals in the sport.
On potentially winning a fourth Grand Slam of the year, and completing the Calendar Slam, he said after his triumph over Nishikori: “After I won in Paris this year, I felt like, ‘OK, I like my chances on grass, I won two Wimbledons in a row, I’ve improved over the years on grass – it did not seem impossible anymore to go for all four in a row in the same year,” he said.
“So here I am. I’m in a good position to do that. Still in the tournament.
“But I’ve got to take one match at a time.
“Probably the greatest Grand Slam career satisfaction I had is when I won four in a row back in 2016 when I crowned it with the first Roland Garros trophy.
“Even though I grew up playing on clay, I feel like Roland Garros has always been probably the Mount Everest for me. Out of all four Slams, that was the toughest for me to win.
“Both 2016 and this year’s win on French Open feel kind of similar.
“I felt if I win Roland Garros in that year, I have a good chance to maybe do it all in same year, Calendar Slam.”
But while Djokovic remains on course for US Open glory, he wasn’t entirely happy with his display against Nishikori.
“I don’t think I started off very well but he surprised me with his level today,” Djokovic said.
“It took me a little bit of time to adjust to his game. I was quite passive.
“I was too far back in the court. He was dictating the play. I was still trying to find the rhythm, find the tempo.
“Obviously he played much quicker and more aggressive than my opponents in the opening rounds did.”
Meanwhile, speaking recently to Express Sport, Greg Rusedski expressed a belief Djokovic would break new ground if he wins the US Open.
“Federer hasn’t done it, Nadal hasn’t done it,” Rusedski said of Djokovic potentially doing the Calendar Slam.
“Rod Laver was last to do it in 1969 before the Open era and also when Rod did it, three of the surfaces were grass and one was clay.
“So for him [Djokovic] to do it in the same year is extraordinary – plus he breaks the record of most slams in the men’s game and then he goes to his favourite Grand Slam in Australia so he could go five or even six in a row.
“This is going to be the most pressure he’s ever had in his career coming in. This is huge expectation pressure, also he lost in the Olympics to Zverev and he has some belief and Medvedev has some belief.
“If he can win this one, he can win 25 Slams – the most of all time.”
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