Novak Djokovic is favourite for calendar Grand Slam but US Open could be the last he wins, says Mats Wilander
World number one and 20-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic could become the most successful men´s player of all time and win the first men´s singles calendar Grand Slam winner since 1969, if he prevails in New York. And Eurosport expert Mats Wilander believes his determination to break records makes him favourite, but that this could be the last slam he wins.
And while Wilander believes Djokovic’s determination to win a calendar Grand Slam will take him over the line this time, he also thinks the Serb may never win another should he achieve those remarkable feats.
"The chance to win a calendar Grand Slam will make him even more determined, if that is possible,” Eurosport expert Wilander said.
“I would not be surprised if he wins the US Open and then never wins another Grand Slam.
“The 21-thing is a heavy burden, and the calendar Grand Slam is a pleasure trip for him, the chance to do something that he thought he’d never have the opportunity to do. The chance to do this is why I make him the favourite to win the US Open.”
Djokovic’s remarkable 2021 suffered a setback this summer as he left the Tokyo 2020 Olympics without a medal and forfeited the chance to win the Golden Slam too.
After looking invincible for much of the year, Alexander Zverev knocked him out of the semi-finals before Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta won in the Bronze Medal Match.
Novak Djokovic of Team Serbia reacts against Pablo Carreno Busta of Team Spain during the Men's Singles Bronze Medal Match on day eight of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Tennis Park
Image credit: Getty Images
And Wilander believes that will have given the rest of the draw hope that he can be defeated.
“I think what happened at the Olympics won’t have an affect on Novak Djokovic,” added Willander.
“But it will affect the other players. And they will be thinking if Carreno Busta can beat Djokovic for a medal, then “wow” – that is huge because Carreno Busta doesn’t have the same weapons as Zverev or Daniil Medvedev. Carreno doesn’t have a big serve, but he can still beat Novak Djokovic.
“Out of the 127 other players in the draw, I think you are now looking at 70-80 players at least who think they have a chance of beating Novak Djokovic – but I don’t think it will make a big difference to him, it’s just a tennis match to him. However, the rest of the players do have an opening against him.”
Djokovic faces a field without his two biggest rivals, Federer and Nadal, after the pair withdrew.
Image credit: Eurosport
Indeed, the ‘golden age’ of men’s tennis, given the waning powers of Federer, Nadal and Andy Murray seems to becoming to an end, with only Djokovic left fighting on all fronts.
But Wilander does not believe the Serb will have things all to himself for much longer.
He said: “I think it will be very difficult for Novak to stay on top for too long, because these new players – Stefanos Tsitsipas, Zverev and Medvedev, Andrey Rubley and Denis Shapovalov – there are so many physically good tennis players from that next generation.
“They are playing big games, they are taking risks, they are serving big, they play aggressive, they are physically bigger – though they don’t move as well and are not as mentally as strong – but I think it is going to be difficult for him.
“I think, interestingly for Novak, clay and grass are going to be the two easiest surfaces for him whereas hard courts are everyone’s favourite surface. There are very few players who know how to play on clay and there are very few players who know how to play on grass. I think Novak will win one more Grand Slam, for sure – I’m just not sure when.”