Can Novak Djokovic be the Greatest of All Time?

The dust has well and truly settled from Novak Djokovic lifting the Wimbledon title. It was another major victory for the Serb that has been accompanied by significantly less fanfare than his compatriots. Now with 9 Grand Slam titles, he is certainly entering the argument as to whether he can become the greatest tennis player of all time.

17 is the magic number. Surpass the mammoth total set by Roger Federer and all other statistics and records will fade into the background. Sure, weeks at number one, career titles and win percentage would contribute to this debate, but Grand Slam titles has become the de facto measure of who is the greatest.

– Lob and Smash 2015 Grand Slam Predictions –

Djokovic has established a mighty stranglehold on the top titles in tennis. Once again in 2015 he is been near unbeatable at the headline events, including Grand Slams as well as Masters 1000 events. His unerring consistency is quickly launching the world number one into the history books.

Age: 28 (22 May 1987)

Grand Slam Finals: 9 (5 AUS, 3 WIM, 1 US)

Grand Slam Titles: 17 (5 AUS, 3 FRA, 4 WIM, 5 US)

At 28 years of age, Djokovic is the kind of physical specimen who you can imagine will enjoy an extended career. Meticulous with detail both on and off the court, he has matured into the model athlete in so many ways. His body seems impervious to injury, something that helped Roger Federer challenge for so many majors in his prime.

Putting numbers to the discussion is based heavily in speculation. Saying that he could have five more years at the very top of the sport would suggest that he will compete in, approximately, 20 more majors. In the last five years he has won 8, evidencing why many believe he is within striking distance of 19.

Imagining how he will register 8 more Grand Slams to tie the all-time record, or 9 to beat it, requires some level of optimism, but it isn’t out of the realms of possibility. His hold over the Australian Open is remarkable, whilst he has won Wimbledon for the last two years.

His lone US Open win will be earmarked for improvement. He has lost four finals in New York and his tilt at being the very best may well hinge on righting that record. Even the French Open, where he barron run continued in surprise fashion, is not out of his reach.

Novak Djokovic’s Grand Slam History

Tournament 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Aus Open 1R 1R 4R W QF QF W W W QF W
French Open 2R QF SF SF 3R QF SF F SF F F
Wimbledon 3R 4R SF 2R QF SF W SF F W W
US Open 3R 3R F SF SF F W F F SF –

Who Can Stop Him?

Much of the discussion will centre around Djokovic himself and rightly so. He has shown that on his day, he is virtually unbeatable. Performances that have halted his progress, especially at the majors, have had to be inspired. Look no further than Stan Wawrinka in Paris.

However, other names in a variety of ways could have a huge impact of Djokovic’s quest. This has been the era of the Big Four and none of the four men have ever let each other win anything without a fight. Young and emerging talent will also been desperate to end the dominance of Djokovic and co.

Roger Federer

Federer may not have many years in him to contest directly with Djokovic in the latter rounds of Slams, however, he can push the record out of reach. If he were to win one or two more majors, then the number that Djokovic is targeting goes from being hard to nearly impossible.

Andy Murray

You would have to think that in the next few years Djokovic’s main rival will be Murray. The pair have already contested 5 Grand Slam titles, with Djokovic leading their head to head on the biggest stage 3 to 2. He is much more dominant in their career head to head, holding a 19-8 advantage.

Currently the world number 1 has the measure of Murray, winning their last eight meetings. The Britain will soon be the world number 2 and that means that the pair will only have more meetings in the finals of events.

– Andy Murray having career year in 2015 –

Murray may well be going through a barren patch against Djokovic, but if there is one characteristic that has marked his career it is his steely resolve. He will be looking for solutions to get back at the Serbian star, knowing that it is his own personal hurdle preventing him from more Grand Slam success.

Kei Nishikori

You have to think that a player outside of the Big Four is going to emerge as a consistent contender at the Grand Slams. It is something that we have been expecting for a number of years, yet still it hasn’t come to fruition. Stan Wawrinka is the only player to have truly shaken the status quo.

I think that Nishikori could be the man to step into the shoes of the Big Four as their powers begin to decline. He is effective on all surfaces, has shown his pedigree at the Grand Slams and when he is fully fit I believe he is a match for anyone.

Young Talent

One of the biggest unknowns in this debate is whether a player will emerge to challenge Djokovic for the major titles that he craves. Whilst we can be sure that the likes of Kyrgios and Thiem are a distance off going all the way, in a few years it is much harder to predict their level.

Djokovic has done a great job in recent years dampening the hopes of those around him. He does so by consistently reproducing a frighteningly high level of tennis. He most certainly has the ability to become the greatest of all time, but will he have the longevity to get close to 17 majors?