When we look back at the 2019 Australian Open in a couple of years, we will mostly remember that it marked the place and time at which Novak Djokovic managed to rekindle the debate for the greatest player of all time.
Djokovic’s victory against Rafael Nadal in the final on Sunday earned him his 15th Grand Slam title, placing him just two behind Rafael Nadal and ahead of Pete Sampras. He is also only five titles behind Roger Federer who currently boasts with 20 Grand Slam titles.
Novak Djokovic as the GOAT
Considering his excellent health, age, his obsession for clean living and his healthy appetite for domination, it’s quite impossible to escape the fact that he can now be considered for GOAT honours. Djokovic has managed to win three consecutive majors since his resurgence a year ago.
“I am absolutely speechless,” Djokovic stated to the crowd at Melbourne after he defeated Rafael. Fans and pundits, most of whom were expecting a 5 hour plus battle on the blue floor at Rod Laver Arena, couldn’t believe how amazing Djokovic played against Nadal.
Nadal, who essentially didn’t compete for more than five months, only had one caveat to hold onto while giving full credit to Djokovic for playing a phenomenal game: “Facing such a big challenge, I required something else to successfully compete at such an elite level. However, its something that I do not have as of yet.”
It’s a valid point. However, its far more likely that Novak Djokovic, following a mid-career crisis due to an elbow injury and private issues, is playing better than ever. He has managed to recover his game as well as his focus. He is also placing a sizable amount of daylight between him and his rivals due to the fact that his fitness and age are increasingly affecting his games with them.
At 32 years old, Nadal is only a year older than Novak Djokovic which isn’t much, to be honest. However, there’s no denying that Nadal’s career is far more difficult. He has a lot more miles on the clock and his body needs more than just a simple routine check. On the other hand, Federer is in fantastic shape. However, he is already 37 years old.
Djokovic vs Nadal
This victory managed to boost Djokovic’s record against Rafael Nadal to 28-25. This record has some incredible aspects that have to be sobering for each of his rivals. The 28th victory over Nadal is considered the most wins by one pro against another. Djokovic also boasts with a 13-3 record against Nadal on every tennis surface imaginable since Rafael Nadal managed to beat him in the 2013 US Open final.
Djokovic spoke quite highly about Nadal after his win stating, “I’m quite positive that we still have loads of matches to look forward to against each other on various surfaces. I sincerely hope we will as this rivalry has been quite significant for more.”