When you find yourself in the company of Novak Djokovic these days, it’s like standing in the shadow of a mountain that’s learned to smile. The ferocious combatant, once known for his career-tinted scowl, now sports a relaxed grin that’s as welcoming as it is unnerving.
Barely six months ago, after seizing his Australian Open title, the image of Djokovic was an ecstatic one, overcome by victory, consumed by the arms of his coaches and kin. When he bypassed Rafael Nadal to lead the Grand Slam singles title race at the French Open last month, Djokovic’s victory felt like a metaphorical ascent up Everest. His reward? A peaceful hiking sojourn in the Azores with his better half, the joy of embracing the number 23.
Yet here we are today, amidst the hallowed greens of the All England Club, where a whole new Djokovic thrives. The man who once bore a formidable countenance of determination and struggle now seems to float through the crowd, his gaze no longer fixed on the ground. He pauses to exchange pleasantries, indulges fans with selfies and autographs, and refuses to leave press conferences even after the moderator signs off. The man has changed, and as he saunters back to his nearby residence for a quiet family dinner, one realizes how good it is to be Novak Djokovic in the here and now.
This realization, already bright, got a shimmering edge last Friday when Djokovic effortlessly bested rising Italian prodigy Jannik Sinner in straight sets. This sets the stage for another grand spectacle on Sunday — a showdown with Spain’s young gun, Carlos Alcaraz.
The final rally against Sinner was a masterclass — a riveting sequence of passion and precision, the climax of which was another aspiration being decimated by a decisive Djokovic backhand. The crowd went wild, and so did Djokovic, his fist-pump salute to the game as the grass of Wimbledon felt the weight of his jubilation.
A successful silence now follows him regarding the territorial disputes of his homeland, Serbia with Kosovo, and the ongoing debates over public health and personal freedom. The crowds are partial towards his competitors, likely hoping to elongate the match, extracting their money’s worth of the Centre Court ticket. But Djokovic understands — just don’t interrupt him while he serves or during the game.
His 34th consecutive win at Wimbledon has positioned him for a shot at his fifth straight singles title at the revered championship, putting him on par with Roger Federer’s record of eight singles titles.
“The anticipation, the thrill, the nerves – they accompany me to every match,” he confessed post-Friday’s win. “When I step onto the court for Sunday’s final, it’s going to feel like the first time.“
His victory could pave the way to an unprecedented achievement — being the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to secure all four Grand Slam singles titles within a year. Eight more victories stand between him and this monumental feat.
In Djokovic’s near-two-decade career, he has suffered only five Grand Slam losses after winning the first set, and only a single defeat after taking the first two. However, those were different days, and the Djokovic we witness today is almost an invincible reincarnation of his former self. His control of the game, even in the face of potential upset, is a testament to his enduring prowess.
His position as the formidable ruler of the tennis world seems secure, particularly with his longtime rivals, Federer and Nadal, now out of the game. With them gone, Djokovic’s primary ambition, to better them consistently, needs a new target. So, he’s set his sights on a generation of budding talents like Medvedev, Thiem, Tsitsipas, Zverev, Rublev, and Khachanov. His aura and past domination continue to subdue these young stars.
Now, Djokovic has another Grand Slam title within his reach, and the young guns are determined to topple him before his eventual departure from the game. On the horizon is the rematch with Alcaraz, the 20-year-old Spanish star who crumbled under full-body cramps during their French Open face-off.
This time, Alcaraz will be facing a much more relaxed Djokovic in his ninth Wimbledon final. The Spaniard has only experienced a dozen matches at Wimbledon, yet he’s as eager as the Serbian veteran for victory.
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