Golden Grand Slam ‘possible’ this year, says Djokovic

Published June 15, 2021
PARIS: Serbia’s Novak Djokovic poses with the French Open trophy in front of the Eiffel tower during a photocall on Monday.—AP
PARIS: Serbia’s Novak Djokovic poses with the French Open trophy in front of the Eiffel tower during a photocall on Monday.—AP

PARIS: For the second time in six years Novak Djokovic is halfway to a calendar year sweep of all four Grand Slam titles after winning the French Open for a second time on Sunday.

And the 34-year-old has set his sights on the Golden Grand Slam of all four majors and the Olympic title, insisting: “Everything is possible”.

The world number one dug deep into his reserves of resilience to hit back from two sets down against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas to win 6-7 (6-8), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 and increase his Grand Slam tally to 19.

That takes him only one behind the men’s record 20 held by Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer and there is nothing to suggest he will not surpass his two career rivals.

He can already claim something neither of those two can, after his win over the 22-year-old Tsitsipas made him the first player in the professional era to win each of the four Grand Slams at least twice.

Now he has targeted being the third man to complete a calendar Grand Slam after Don Budge in 1937 and Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969.

On top of that, he also wants the Olympic gold medal to complete the Golden Grand Slam.

“Everything is possible. Definitely in my case I can say that what I’ve been through in my career, in my life, this journey has been terrific so far,” Djokovic told reporters.

“I’ve achieved some things that a lot of people thought it would be not possible for me to achieve. So everything is possible, and I did put myself in a good position to go for the Golden Slam.

But, you know, I was in this position in 2016 as well. It ended up in a third-round loss in Wimbledon.”

Wimbledon returns later this month after last year’s tournament was cancelled because of the pandemic.

Djokovic won it in 2019 and will be the favourite to add a sixth title on the grass, after which he will turn his thoughts to the Olympic Games and the US Open.

“Obviously I will enjoy this win and then think about Wimbledon in a few days’ time. I don’t have an issue to say that I’m going for the title in Wimbledon,” he said. “Of course I am. I won in ‘18 and ‘19 there. Hopefully I can keep that run going.”

The Golden Slam has never been achieved by a man while, in the women’s game, only Steffi Graf in 1988 has swept all four majors and Olympic gold in the same year.

In Graf’s case, Olympic gold came in Seoul. For Djokovic, the opportunity will come in Tokyo later this summer.

“Obviously his goal and our goal is to win the Olympics and then win the Grand Slam. That would be the absolutely top of this year,” said Djokovic’s longtime coach Marian Vajda. “But it’s still far away from us. We have to still focus on the next one.”

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2021

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