When sportsmen or women strive for excellence, they look for the holy grail. Consistency. Winning one of the big titles is not enough. Champions look for more and more, never settle for anything but the best. On June 5 this year, Novak Djokovic achieved that holy grail in #Tennis. He had done something which had not been done in the men’s game for 47 years. To win all 4 Grand Slam titles consecutively was what Novak had done after his victory against Andy Murray in the French Open final. This has cemented his place as a legend in the game. However, since then, the fall from grace has been one like we have never seen in the sport. Can he send his critics into oblivion once again by winning the ATP World Tour Finals this week?
Djokovic's let-down was inevitable
Once a pinnacle is reached, a new sense of motivation is required for athletes. Furthermore, when the pinnacle reached is like the one Djokovic experienced, that urge for motivation becomes a whole lot tougher. What is there to play for? You are the holder of the 4 biggest titles in your sport. All the training and hard yards spent on the practice court has been validated. There is nothing for you to prove. No one can question your place in history. Yet, the perceived let-down that Novak has experienced in the last 5 months has been made to be massive. There were obvious disappointments at Wimbledon and the Olympic Games, which will still pain him today. However, a US Open final and consistent semi final performances show that he is right there. Pete Sampras felt a similar let-down once he broke the all-time Grand Slam record, so this is not a rare occurrence.
Novak has faced similar questions before
The last time Novak Djokovic was at the No.1 position, he had got to that place by breaking the stranglehold on Grand Slams by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. 4 Gland Slam victories in 5 attempts solidified his status as the best in the world. However, after the French Open final defeat to Nadal in 2012, confidence issues started to creep into his game. Only one further major triumph in two years hid the fact that he had made five finals and at least the semi finals in all of the majors barring one. It took hiring Boris Becker to get his mental strength to a level that we may never see in the sport again. After that Wimbledon victory in 2014, the Grand Slams have been dominated by the Serb. Now, with doubts being present again, will he look to a change in coaching staff again? Only time will tell.
Victory this week will dispel myths
Much has been written and said about Andy Murray’s ascent to the top of the sport. As Novak himself said, this is deserved for an athlete who has worked incredibly hard to reach No.1. However, in the biggest matches, with titles on the line, many people would still favour Djokovic. It is easy to forget that Novak and Andy have not played since the French Open final in May, which was won by Djokovic. With this week being matches between the best 8 players in the world, Novak must still be considered favourite. His record against the top 10 in the past few years simply demands that. Despite his current ranking, the 4-time defending champion will be the man to beat.
As the world of tennis descends on the O2 Arena in London, remember that champions must never be discounted, and Djokovic is certainly a champion.