Novak Djokovic, master mimic of the pro tour’s superstars, is on course to become the game’s undisputed GOAT (Greatest of All-Time). The 34-year-old Serbian superstar took step No. 1 toward capturing the third leg of the Grand Slam (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open in the same year). The 2019 defending champion beat 19-year-old British teen, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 Monday in the Wimbledon first round. The 2020 Wimbledon event was canceled last year because of the pandemic.
“Last year …. was a very difficult time for everyone, but I’m really glad that the sport is back,” Djokovic told Wimbledon’s Centre Court fans. “It feels great seeing everyone and being back on probably the most special, the most sacred tennis court in the world.” Djokovic is on course to capture his third consecutive major title, which would tie him with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for most career major titles (20). Djokovic’s major titles: Australian Open (9), French Open (2), Wimbledon (5) and U.S. Open (3). If Djokovic walks away with the grass-court title at the end of the fortnight and claims the 2021 U.S. Open title in September, he joins Australia’s Rod Laver (1962, 1969) and Donald Budge (1938) as the only men to win the game’s most prestigious title – Grand Slam Champion.
Djokovic says his goal is to capture the Golden Slam, which includes the four majors plus the Olympics singles title. “He’s already won the toughest one (French Open),” all-time great John McEnroe told Buzzfeed. “He’s the best player that ever lived, I would say, on hard courts. If he’s able to stay healthy through this, I think he’s got a great shot at winning the Slam. The fact that he’s saying (he wants the Golden Slam), shows you how much he believes he can do it. Normally, you wouldn’t bring that up. It’s like saying, I’m about to pitch a no-hitter after six innings. That’s pretty gutsy.”
Long before he earned superstar status, Djokovic studied the styles, tendencies, even the on-court-idiosyncrasies of several of the game’s top superstars including major rivals Federer, 39, and Nadal,35. His on-court impersonations of Federer, Nadal, former pro-Maria Sharapova, and others are hilarious. (Youtube – Novak Jokovic Impersonations).
To prepare for Wimbledon’s slick, grass court surface, Djokovic, a strong baseliner, sharpened his net play and reflexes by playing doubles with Carlos Gomez-Hererra in the Mallorca Championships, a Wimbledon warmup. They reached the final, then forfeited the title to their opponents. “He’s one of the guys I most look forward to listening to in the post-match interviews,” McEnroe says. “He’s very smart.”