No­vak tar­gets Roger’s record

The Citizen (KZN) - - Sport -

No­vak Djokovic put Roger Fed­erer on no­tice as he won his 17th Grand Slam ti­tle at the Aus­tralian Open and warned he was go­ing all-out for the Swiss’s record of 20 – and his mark for weeks as world No 1.

Djokovic, who came through a mid-match slump to win his eighth ti­tle in Melbourne, is tot­ting up the vic­to­ries that could soon end the de­bate over who’s the great­est in his­tory.

The five-set vic­tory over Do­minic Thiem was his eighth in eight fi­nals in Melbourne, putting him along­side Fed­erer and Nadal as the only men to win the same Slam eight times.

It makes Djokovic, 32, the first man in the Open era to win Grand Slam ti­tles in three dif­fer­ent decades – and as a bonus, re­turns him to world No 1.

In an omi­nous sign for his ri­vals, the Serb has started the year un­beaten with Wim­ble­don, the French Open, the Tokyo Olympics and the US Open all ly­ing in front of him as tan­ta­lis­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

He is clear-sighted about his goals: over­tak­ing Nadal’s 19 Ma­jor ti­tles and Fed­erer’s 20 to be­come the all-time Grand Slam king, and out­do­ing the Swiss master’s record 310 weeks in the top rank­ing.

Djokovic has so far clocked up 276 weeks as No 1 and could pass sec­ond-placed Pete Sam­pras’s 286 in April, and Fed­erer’s 310 on 5 Oc­to­ber.

“Ob­vi­ously at this stage of my ca­reer, Grand Slams are the ones I value the most. They are the ones I pri­ori­tise,” said Djokovic, adding “there’s a lot of his­tory on the line”.

“Grand Slams are one of the main rea­sons why I am still com­pet­ing and still play­ing a full sea­son, try­ing to ob­vi­ously get the his­toric No 1 (record). That’s the other big goal,” he said.

With five ma­jor ti­tles in just over two years, and un­beaten by Nadal and Fed­erer at Slams since 2014, there’s no ques­tion who’s now the lead­ing mem­ber of the “Big Three”.

Pic­tures: AFP

UN­STOP­PABLE. This com­bi­na­tion of pho­tos shows Ser­bia’s No­vak Djokovic hold­ing the Nor­man Brookes Tro­phy af­ter his eight Aus­tralian Open vic­to­ries.

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