"Novak, however, is the joy and definition of tennis. Before him, records tumble and collapse like a house of cards. He is the Messiah of tennis, the aspiration and delicacy of the game!”
At the risk of incurring the ire of fans of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, l bestow this day on Novak Kofi Djokovic, the title of the greatest tennis player to ever grace a tennis court since the introduction of the sport.
Truth be told, Federer and Nadal have also been great ambassadors of the sport, and Carlos Alcaraz too, lately. I love the magical backhand of Federer for its sheer elegance and poise. No one had a more graceful foot movement in a tennis court than Federer. His ball control skills particularly the measured accelerations of his forehand was a delight to watch. In a sense, Roger Federer was the "John the Baptist" of tennis. His style won souls for the game, but he was not the messiah.
Rafael Nadal boasts of the most lucrative topspin forehand in tennis. But not only that. He is a professor at pushing his opponents to the baseline before hurting them with drop balls and designer winners from strange, unbelievable angles. How Nadal is able to weave his racket around his head and hit the ball with a tremendous spin most of the time is breathless.
No one has more power, strength and durability like Nadal. It is sad that injuries and ageing bones have conspired against his progress of late. I would love to see him in Wimbledon one more time. Tennis would never forget the duo for their contribution to the game. They have paid their dues to the game and their place in tennis history is a certainty.
Novak, however is the joy and definition of tennis. He hits the ball in a manner that brings solace to the heart, drowning it in joy. Talk about technique, strategy, adaptability, flexibility, creativity, toughness, ferocity, maturity, control, variety, fortitude, attitude, speed, sobriety, courage and confidence on court and out of court, and Djokovic is king! He is simply matchless.
That's why he has accomplished what no man before him or possibly after him may ever achieve in the men's game. Twenty three (23) Grand Slam singles titles by itself is a crazy record. No man in tennis history has ever achieved this feat.
But winning this year's French Open as the oldest man to have ever done so at a ripe old age of 36 (even with dwindling bones and receding reflexes) against an army of ebullient warring youth is itself a stunning record!
Before king Djokovic, records tumble and collapse like a house of cards. His racquet cuts through all surfaces, whether they be grass, clay or hard court with eagerness and precision like a hot knife through butter! The GOAT conquered all the four major Grand Slams in 2021. Also securely wrapped under his belt are 94 ATP singles titles, a record 38 ATP Masters titles, and a joint record 6 ATP Finals titles.
Not only is king Djokovic, ladies and gentlemen, the only man to have won all nine of the Masters tournaments, but he has done so incredibly twice!
And here is the juiciest part. No man has held on to the world number one position as long as the king of tennis has done. Djokovic has enjoyed 388 weeks as world number one in a record 12 different years. The statistics sounds unreal, sublime and intoxicating at the same time! And mind you, he has also been year-end number one a record seven times.
GOAT Djokovic is the only player in the history of the game to be the reigning champion of all four majors across three different surfaces simultaneously. No one else has won a triple Career Grand Slam and all four majors at least three times in the history of the game. And if you are looking for the only player to have won all four Grand Slams, try to look beyond Djokovic and see who shows up. No one!
Need l bore you with more records, for they seem to me unnecessary at this point. The records only magnify his invincibility, elevate his class and distance him further away from the rest of the chasing pack, like separating gold from dull jewelry.
If Djokovic was American or British, he would probably be a living god. If you consider what the American public relations entities have done to Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan LeBron James and Co, and the British to Andy Murray and Cameron Norrie (the latter two only fairly moderate tennis players) you would understand the hesitation in elevating the GOAT of tennis to similar echelons of reverence and international respect. But we know why. He is not American, he is only a Serb!
Off the court, the GOAT does not fail to dazzle the world with his confidence, courage, personality and dignity. He won the Australian Open last year after being hauled out of that country disgracefully the previous year for objecting to Covid vaccination. He also lost a couple of opportunities elsewhere for similar reasons. But the mysterious GOAT silenced his critics last year by returning from Australia with the trophy in his cooler!
Tennis, ladies and gentlemen, is Djokovic, and Djokovic is tennis. The two were made for each other and none can exist alone by itself. In the GOAT, our aspirations for the game are fulfilled. He is the Messiah of tennis, the very delicacy of the game.