Novak Djokovic and the records that could keep him motivated over the next few years
The 36-year-old already owns most records in men’s tennis but there are few more he could yet take
Novak Djokovic now holds the record for the most Grand Slam titles won by any man after his third Roland-Garros title secured him a 23rd slam title in Paris at the weekend.
The first time Djokovic won Roland-Garros, in 2016, he lost motivation for a while, the achievement in winning the career Grand Slam taking away some of the desire to get up and train every day, to travel all over the world chasing glory.
But seven years on, Djokovic is still racking up the titles and even at 36, shows no sign of slowing, which spells trouble for those who would love to take his place at the top of the game.
The Serb says he’s inspired by making history, so here are the few of the records or achievements that he doesn’t yet own, which may keep him motivated for a few more years yet.
Winning 25 Grand Slam titles
Djokovic may have moved ahead of Rafael Nadal in the all-time Grand Slam list but he’s unlikely to rest on his laurels. The Serb is level with Serena Williams on 23 but both those two trail the overall leader, Margaret Court, who has 24.
Court’s career spanned the amateur and professional eras and her record is often denigrated because of that. But the Australian beat everyone she faced, at their peaks, and fully deserves her status as one of he game’s all-time greats.
Two more slams would put Djokovic on top of the pile and with Nadal recovering from surgery and out of action until at least November, the Serb would surely set a mark that would last a couple of generations, at least.
Breaking Roger Federer’s Wimbledon record
Such has been Djokovic’s dominance in the past decade – 17 of his 23 slams have come since 2014 – that there are few records he has not already taken.
While Nadal’s 14 Roland-Garros titles is a record that will surely stand for decades, Roger Federer‘s record of eight men’s titles at Wimbledon is one that he could well equal within a month.
Djokovic has seven Wimbledon titles to his name already, an achievement that doesn’t get enough credit, and he will go into Wimbledon as big favourite, which would put him alongside Federer, who is considered to be one of, if not the best, grass-court players of all time. Then there will be just Martina Navratilova, with nine, to chase down.
The calendar-year Grand Slam
No man has won all four Grand Slams in the same year since Rod Laver did it (for a second time) in 1969. Djokovic came closer than anyone just two years ago, when he was beaten in the final by Daniil Medvedev in New York, having won the other three.
Djokovic knows the mental and physical effort required to win all four slams. At 36, it would arguably be the single greatest achievement ever in tennis, should he go on to win Wimbledon and the US Open.
As he knows better than most, the pressure of answering the questions about the Grand Slam after every match can be exhausting and there are players who will threaten his chances along the way. But having won the first two slams of the year for the third time in his career, who’s to say he can’t do it.
“I’d love to get a chance to go for another chance at the history in New York,” he told the Tennis Channel at Roland-Garros, admitting that he had to win Wimbledon first, which is no given. “I missed the history couple years ago in the last match, with Medvedev. But I felt the love from New Yorkers, from all the people who were there. I was actually blown away with emotions of what they’ve brought to me on that day, on the court. So I can’t wait to go back and play in New York.”
Winning Olympic gold in 2024
The Olympics is the only big event that Djokovic has not won. He picked up a bronze medal the first time he competed at the Olympics in Beijing in 2008 but was fourth in 2012 and lost early in 2016 and 2021.
With the Games to be held in Paris, on clay at Roland-Garros in 2024, Djokovic has to have the Olympic gold medal in his mind, even if he will be 37 by then. If Nadal’s not able to recover from injury, he will go into it with as good a chance as anyone, and the motivation is clear.
“I hope I’ll be able to play healthy for next year in Paris,” he said, earlier this year. “It’s going to be played on clay at Roland Garros, so I’m familiar with those grounds. I hope the best Olympic result for me will come there.”