NEW YORK – On Monday night at the U.S. Open, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic was given an early scare by an American wild card whose unimposing serve and unorthodox strokes put tennis history on the line.
Djokovic overcame an unsteady start to beat 20-year-old Jenson Brooksby 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. His pursuit of the calendar-year Grand Slam served as motivation.
Novak Djokovic, the Serbian tennis sensation, has time and again proved his mettle on the world’s most challenging tennis courts. His prowess at the US Open, one of the sport’s grandest stages, has brought both elation and heartbreak for fans and opponents alike.
This article delves into Djokovic’s journey at the US Open, his encounters with American players, and contemplates the ever-persistent question: Is Novak Djokovic the greatest tennis player of all time?
Novak Djokovic, often heralded as one of the titans of tennis, has a career dotted with record-breaking achievements, intense rivalries, and unforgettable moments. While his Grand Slam journey has been nothing short of legendary, it has also been intertwined with other tennis greats like Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
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This article delves deep into Djokovic’s tennis journey, his rapport with Nadal, his comparative standing with Federer, and a look into some of the most defining matches of his career.
20-Time Grand Slam Champion
Djokovic had to call upon nearly all of his tremendous tools to defeat the 99th ranked Brooksby, who only turned pro in January, including his dogged defence, devastating service return, unusual stamina, and steely will.
The 34-year-old added a couple piercing stare-downs at the youngster early in the match when victory was far from secured, just in case the teenager had forgotten that he was playing a 20-time Grand Slam champion on the verge of staking a claim as the best in men’s tennis history.
A player needs to win 28 consecutive matches in all four majors to claim a Grand Slam in a single calendar year. Djokovic has reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals and now has 25 career wins. He has won the Australian Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon.
If he wins three more, he will become the first man to do it since Rod Laver in 1969. With a victory, Djokovic will have won his 21st Grand Slam title. If he did that, he’d set a new men’s record and break a tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, all of whom are sitting this one out.
The crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium was on its feet cheering Brooksby’s retrieval skills (he is surprisingly fleet and agile for a 6-4 player), his wickedly angled passing shots, and his grit in breaking serve during a 19-minute marathon game before Djokovic finally managed to seize the momentum for good midway through the second set.
Since his countryman Reilly Opelka was eliminated earlier in the day, Brooksby was the lone American player still in the competition. And EPN commentators Brad Gilbert and John McEnroe, winner of four U.S. Open singles titles, were so excited by Brooksby’s potential that they discussed ways to improve his serve live on television.
While watching on TV, Andy Roddick, the last American man to win a Grand Slam (the 2003 U.S. Open), texted an offer of assistance and shared his own praise for Brooksby’s tenacity and entertaining play on social media.
A final message to his wife said, “Sorry @BrooklynDecker, but I think I love another.”
When Brooksby, then a teenager, upset Tomas Berdych in the first round of the 2019 U.S. Open, he caught the attention of college coaches and agencies. After giving serious thought to going pro, he enrolled at Baylor instead and ended up missing the entire 2020 season due to an injury.
In January, he made the decision to turn professional and immediately began a schedule that included both lower-level Challenger events and ATP tournaments for which he qualified or received a wild card.
He shocked 15th-ranked Felix Auger-Aliassime in the Citi Open in Washington, DC to garner recognition in the ATP events after dominating the Challenger circuit. On Monday night, Brooksby took a 3-0 lead over Djokovic thanks to a combination of his own brilliance and some sloppy play from the much more seasoned Serb.
The Shaky Start Against an American Upstart
In a recent match, the tennis world held its breath as Novak Djokovic faced an unexpectedly challenging start against a rising American talent.
Displaying the grit and resilience that have become synonymous with his name, Djokovic managed to claw his way back, turning a potential upset into a testament to his tenacity.
Djokovic’s US Open Adversaries
While Novak has celebrated numerous victories at the US Open, it has not been without its share of defeats. He’s had intense battles with various players, with some managing to topple the tennis giant. The list of those who’ve defeated Djokovic at the US Open is a who’s who of modern tennis legends.
Djokovic’s Record Against American Players
Novak Djokovic’s encounters with American tennis players have always drawn attention, given the historical significance and prowess of U.S. tennis.
While Djokovic has an impressive record against players from many nations, he has indeed faced losses against American players, adding rich chapters to tennis folklore.
The Recent Match: Did Djokovic Triumph?
The anticipation surrounding Djokovic’s matches is always high. As for whether he won his last match at the US Open – the Serbian star, amidst fierce competition, showcased why he is at the pinnacle of men’s tennis.
The Debate: Is Djokovic the GOAT?
The debate about the “Greatest Of All Time” in tennis is a fierce one, with Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic being the frequent names in the discussion. Djokovic’s impressive tally of Grand Slam titles, including those from the US Open, certainly make a compelling case for his inclusion in this elite conversation.
Djokovic’s US Open Legacy
Over the years, Djokovic has amassed a significant number of US Open titles, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the greats of the game. Each title represents a story of struggle, perseverance, and ultimate triumph, further cementing his place in tennis history.
Djokovic vs. Nadal: A Riveting Rivalry
The Djokovic-Nadal rivalry is one for the ages. Their matches have been nothing short of tennis epics. Over the years, Djokovic has had a certain number of losses to Nadal, with each match adding another layer to their storied rivalry.
But beyond the matches, both players share mutual respect. Nadal’s comments about Djokovic have always reverberated with admiration, recognizing the Serbian’s unparalleled tenacity and skill on the court.
Djokovic’s Grand Slam Finals: Setting Records?
Djokovic’s appearance in Grand Slam finals has been record-setting. While the exact number may vary depending on the current season and latest tournaments, Djokovic is undoubtedly one of the players with the most Grand Slam final appearances in tennis history.
The US Open Conundrum
The US Open has been a challenging territory for Djokovic. Despite his numerous appearances, he has lost several finals. Each loss, though, is a testament to the high level of competition and the narrow margins that often decide tennis matches at the highest level.
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Djokovic consistently made the same mistake, underestimating Brooksby’s speed and attempting drop shots that were easily returned by the American. He also failed to account for Brooksby’s superior vision when it came to predicting his next move with the ball.
Djokovic began making more errors than winners as he struggled to adapt to his recent string of defeats despite playing well. Novak Djokovic’s journey in the tennis world, especially at the US Open, is a blend of determination, skill, and unparalleled talent.
From nail-biting matches against up-and-coming players to challenging the definitions of greatness in tennis, Djokovic continues to be a pivotal figure in the sport’s narrative. As fans, analysts, and fellow players watch his every move, one thing is certain: Djokovic’s legacy, especially at the US Open, is one for the ages.