To dream is to give hope and purpose. Dreaming as a youngster fills the mind with imagination, with optimism, with promise of the future. With what might be. With what direction the dreamer’s life might take. Those dreams can help set up the future.
For a boy in the once war-torn Yugoslavia, the dream was to be the greatest – to win the biggest prizes there are in world tennis, to be crowned with the most historically significant titles there are.
Novak Djokovic’s dream continues to unfold and be realised. He holds the record for the most weeks at the top of the rankings, he is the only man to have won all nine ATP Masters 1000 events not just once but multiple times, he has won more prize money than any other player in history, and the list goes on.
However, all that pales in comparison to what happened on a warm sunny Sunday afternoon in Paris. At Roland Garros, he took another step to being recognised as the ultimate ‘GOAT’ … the Greatest Of All Time.
It is all about the records and the stats and a place in history and to be able to achieve what has not be done before.
Novak defeated first time major finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to win the French Open for the second time and in doing so became the only man in the ‘open era’ of tennis, which dates back to 1968, to claim every one of the four majors: Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, multiple times.
That is one incredible triumph.
“Of course, I am thrilled and I'm very proud of this achievement,” Djokovic said. “I think part of the history of the sport that I love with all my heart is always something that is very inspiring and very fulfilling for me. I couldn't be happier and more satisfied with this kind of scenario in the last 48 hours. Probably ranks at the top three all-time achievements and experiences that I had in my professional tennis career. Going through a four-and-a-half hour battle with Rafa on his court, then bouncing back after not practising yesterday, just coming in today with as much as recharged batteries and energy regained to fight another battle of four-and-a-half hours against Tsitsipas, who is playing in his first Grand Slam finals. It's always, of course, a bit tricky because you're playing for your trophy, for your first Grand Slam trophy, but you don't have much to lose.”
Not only is he the only man in the Open era to achieve such a feat, across the entire history of tennis only two other men have done it, the Australian legends Rod Laver and Roy Emerson in the 1960s. The victory at Roland Garros 2021 was also Novak’s 19th career major.
In back-to-back matches he defeated his greatest rival Rafa Nadal, who he played for the 58th time, in one of the most sensational matches ever played at Roland Garros, and then Tsitsipas, part of the next generation.
Speaking of his four-hours 11-minute win over Nadal, Djokovic said: “Definitely the best match I was part of ever in Roland Garros for me, and in the top three matches that I ever played in my entire career, considering the quality of tennis, playing my biggest rival on the court where he has had so much success, and the atmosphere which was completely electric. It was just one of those nights and matches that you will remember forever; the occasion was very special.”
What Novak Djokovic did in Paris will be remembered by history.