Novak Djokovic admitted he is not involving himself in the discussions over who is the greatest and just wants to rewrite his own history after winning his 23rd Grand Slam title.
PARIS, FRANCE – Novak Djokovic is determined to write his own history rather than focusing on who is the greatest player of all time after winning his 23rd Grand Slam title at Roland Garros with victory over Casper Ruud.
Novak Djokovic is the Roland Garros champion as he defeated Casper Ruud in straight sets to seal a 23rd Grand Slam title. There was history on the line for the Serb as he was looking to overtake Rafael Nadal and become the player with the most Grand Slam titles on the men’s side. As a result of what was on the line, Djokovic was bound to be nervous and the Serb showed his tension and nerves in the opening few games as he was passive from the baseline.
However Ruud was the opposite as he had nothing to lose and showed it with his aggressive tennis, taking the match to Djokovic. The two-time champion’s nerves showed on the scoreboard as a shanked smash saw Ruud convert his third break point as the Norwegian went on to take a 3-0 lead. Eventually Djokovic gained some confidence and worked his way into the occasion, playing some solid tennis but it wasn’t enough to intimidate Ruud, who continued to paint the lines with his backhand.
The clean and precise tennis from Ruud was almost too good to be true as Djokovic was left puzzled as to how his point construction on return wasn’t effective yet. However in the seventh game Djokovic would have an opportunity to break as Ruud made some costly unforced errors as the Serb took the pace off some of his shots. The great champions in sport only need one chance and Djokovic took his opportunity as it was Ruud’s turn to miss a smash.
That was the moment that sparked the wave in momentum for Djokovic although Ruud wouldn’t let the Serb have the set easily as the Norwegian continued to create opportunities to break.
A tiebreak loomed as both players were clinical on serve and that news was good news for Djokovic who hadn’t hit a single unforced error in the five previous tiebreaks he had played. That insane stat continued as Djokovic outclassed the Norwegian to win seven of the eight points on offer to seal a brutal 81 minute set.
Ruud’s challenge just got a whole lot more difficult and the challenge turned into impossible after the Serb continued the momentum into the second set. Djokovic’s brutal baseline tennis continued as he converted his fourth break point of the second game as he would take a 3-0 lead.
The Norwegian remained resilient despite Djokovic’s insane level of tennis as he remained efficient on serve and denied the Serb a double break, saving two set points in the eight game to force Djokovic to serve for a two set lead. However the third seed held to love and took one step closer towards history.
In the third set, Ruud failed to lie down for Djokovic’s bid for history and instead opting to make the Serb work for his title as he held several tight games to remain within touching distance. Djokovic was on another level though, losing only four points in the third set with Ruud unable to test Djokovic’s nerve under pressure.
An incredible eleventh game from Djokovic saw him smack several winners past Ruud to give himself the chance to serve for history. Cool as ice under pressure was the Serb as he closed out a record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam title and a third Roland Garros title.
Another historic day for Djokovic as he sealed a 23rd Grand Slam title as well as returning to the top of the ATP rankings. An impressive two weeks from the Serb shows that Djokovic is the greatest player of all time and the best under pressure.
However after the match Djokovic admitted he doesn’t want to involve himself into discussions as to who is the greatest and just wants to write his own history.
“I don’t want to say that I am the greatest, because I feel, I’ve said it before, it’s disrespectful towards all the great champions in different eras of our sport that was played in completely different way than it is played today,” Djokovic told the Roland Garros website.
“So I feel like each great champion of his own generation has left a huge mark, a legacy, and paved the way for us to be able to play this sport in such a great stage worldwide. I leave those kind of discussions of who is the greatest to someone else.
“I have of course huge faith and confidence and belief in myself and for everything that I am and who I am and what I am capable of doing. So this trophy obviously is another confirmation of the quality of tennis that I’m still able to produce, I feel.
“I prefer to leave it to other people, because there are a lot of people talking, and it’s good for our sport to have this historical discussion, but of course I have a lot of self-confidence. For me, on a daily basis, I’m the best on the court, because with this state of mind, it’s the only state of mind or spirit that can lead to historical results and this trophy. Afterwards, statistics are there, but we have a lot of different factors. It depends on the point of view of a person or the organizations that discuss these things.
“So I don’t want to enter in these discussions. I’m writing my own history.”
It’s clear Djokovic isn’t too focused on who the greatest is as he looks to add more Grand Slams to his collection. However the Serb did comment on Nadal and Roger Federer who are two players who have helped him become the player he is today.
The new world number one said that his two closest rivals have defined him as a player.
“The truth is that I have always compared myself to these guys, because those two are the two greatest rivals I ever had in my career. I have said it before many times that they have actually defined me as a player, and all the success that I have, they have contributed to it, in a way, because of the rivalries and the match-ups that we had.
“Countless hours of thinking and analysing and what it takes to win against them on the biggest stage, for me and my team, it was just those two guys were occupying my mind for the last 15 years quite a lot.
“It’s amazing to know that I’m ahead of both of them in Grand Slams, but at the same time, everyone writes their own history. I still think that everyone has a unique journey that they should embrace and stick to. But of course having the three of us, with Andy [Murray] of course, as well, that we cannot forget, in the last 20 years, it’s kind of reached the golden era of the men’s tennis, as people like to call it. So I’m really grateful to be part of this group of guys.”
Djokovic’s past has shaped his present as he is now in control of his immortal legacy in the sport. Now the Serb wants to win more Grand Slam titles as his eyes are firmly set on defending his Wimbledon title.
“Of course journey is still not over. I feel if I’m winning slams, why even think about ending the career that already has been going on for 20 years. I still feel motivated, I still feel inspired to play the best tennis on these tournaments the most, Grand Slams.
“Those are the ones that count I guess the most in history of our sport. I look forward already to Wimbledon.”
As for Ruud it was disappointment as the Norwegian lost a third consecutive Grand Slam final. However the world number four has a lot to be proud of having entered Paris in underwhelming form, the fourth seed reached a second consecutive Roland Garros final.
Speaking after the match Ruud praised Djokovic’s record-breaking achievement and admitted that this was the most important final of his career.
“I feel like I played him many times where he’s like the best version of himself, where he’s just really locked in, and doesn’t give you much,” Ruud told the Roland Garros website.
“He makes it very tough to win every point against him, he reads the game very well, it’s tough to find winners against him. Just all credit and honour to him for how good he is. I gave it my all, but it wasn’t enough.
“I think this is maybe the most important final that I reached, honestly. Because first time was, yes, very cool. But here I sort of proved that whatever happened last year is just not like a one-time case. Even for next year when we come back to Roland-Garros, people are going to look, ‘Oh, Casper didn’t just make one final but he made it twice’.
“Probably going to plant some respect in my opponents’ eyes and hopefully I can build on that, and one day I’m gonna try to obviously aim for a Slam title. That’s my biggest goal, my biggest dream in my career and in my life. It’s been close, but close but no cigar, so I’m going to keep working and try to get it one day.”
A motivated Ruud is determined to reach the Grand Slam summit one day as he looks to reach more finals in the future. The Norwegian was also asked whether he thinks he needs to add anyone to his team to improve his chances of success having lost three finals at this level.
However the Norwegian denied that being the case and insisted that he will get there eventually.
“It’s not something I’ve thought too much about. I mean, obviously anyone you play in a Grand Slam final is going to be a good player. But the three players I’ve played is just; Rafa going for, at the time, the record for 22, and then Carlos who was just on fire in New York, and then here, Novak, going for 23. I played very tough players, as you say.
“There have been other maybe players in the final, also in the last years, that have maybe been more — what should I say? — playable or beatable, because these guys know what to do. I can’t just sit and make excuses, but let’s see what the future holds.”
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