Here we are. Here it is, above all. Tonight, Novak Djokovic will return to the Arthur-Ashe court against Daniil Medvedev with the possibility of becoming the first man since 1969 to achieve the Grand Slam. The “calendar” Grand Slam, as it is too often said, which does not make much sense since there is only one Grand Slam. It is self-sufficient. But let’s leave the semantics aside.
The hypothesis of seeing Novak Djokovic one day in this position was anything but absurd. Because he has been the most complete and dominant champion of the tennis landscape for many years now and his two main historical rivals have started a more or less pronounced physical decline while he, at 34, is still at the top. of its shape. If anyone could get within rifle range of the Grand Slam, it was him.
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However, deep inside us, a little music slipped, gently, as if to tell us that this dream would remain, for him as for the others, only a simple dream. Too many demands, cumulative fatigue and stress. There would always be a day without, an opponent in a state of grace, an unwelcome physical glitch. In short, a grain of sand. But it’s September 12, 2021 and Novak Djokovic, after winning his first 27 major matches of the year, is well and truly three sets away from becoming the third player in tennis history to win the Grand Slam.
Deeming it to be the “most important” game of his career, Djokovic has handled the understatement. It is, and even in proportions that even he may not quite measure. No one can. If the Serbian joins Donald Budge and Rod Laver on Sunday evening, he will perform a performance that we will talk about again in 20, 30 or 50 years, especially if it takes, as with Laver, to wait half a century to find a successor in this field. . In tennis, the Grand Slam crushes everything. It is the supreme Grail, the ultimate quest.
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What do we measure it? Before Djokovic’s last capital finals, what were we talking about? The record for Grand Slam victories. The famous distance fight of the Big 3. At Roland-Garros, the Djoker was back on the heels of the duo Federer-Nadal: 20-20-19. At Wimbledon, it was done, he had finally joined them after a decade of hunting: 20-20-20.
Tonight, Novak Djokovic can surpass the Swiss and the Spaniard in this area, which, everyone will agree, would be a significant event. However, if everyone has only talked about that for years, this issue is totally marginalized by that of the Grand Slam. Yes, Djokovic will play this final to become the record holder for major titles, but, sorry to say it like that, who cares. And he too, no doubt.
In the event of failure on Sunday, this 21st major title, he will have other opportunities to obtain it. But the Grand Slam … This quest is so energy intensive, physically and psychologically, that it seems difficult to imagine that he could find himself in this position in the future, even if with an animal like him, one must never say never.
“If he realizes it, Djokovic’s Grand Slam will be immensely stronger than Laver’s”
But that is exactly what it is about today. Novak Djokovic will play to become the third champion in history to complete the Grand Slam, not (or much less) to overtake Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Faced with the greatness of the history of sport, the bickering of “fanboys” has been eclipsed or, at the very least, attenuated. So much the better.
There would be plenty to be overwhelmed by such a prospect and, victory or defeat tonight, it will be interesting to listen to the Serbian’s confidences on how he has gotten through these last hours, days, weeks. Because, even surrounded, even advised, the champion is inevitably alone in front of such an extraordinary event. According to Stendhal, “The great man is like the eagle: the more he rises, the less he is visible, and he is punished for his greatness by the loneliness of the soul”. Such is Novak Djokovic, more than ever, this September 12, 2021. Alone against all, alone with himself, alone in the face of history.
US Open 2021 : Novak Djokovic
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