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G.O.A.T., Grand Slam, Ivanisevic, vaccination: 17 questions about Novak Djokovic – updated ahead of US Open 2022
Novak Djokovic is one of the greatest tennis players in history and arguably the greatest Serbian sportsman of all-time. Here are the answers to some common questions you may have about him
Will Djokovic play at the US Open in 2022?
As of August, Djokovic will not be allowed to participate in the 2022 US Open if he remains unvaccinated as he will not be able to enter the country. In a recent interview, Djokovic said he found it strange that an American player will be allowed to play the US Open without being vaccinated but he would not be able to.
Did the Serb play Roland-Garros and Wimbledon in 2022?
Yes. Novak Djokovic has been allowed to participate in both Roland-Garros and Wimbledon in 2022 as both countries do not have vaccination as a requirement for entry. The Serb was defeated in the quarter-finals of the 2022 French Open, losing to Rafael Nadal, but won Wimbledon 2022, beating Australia’s Nick Kyrgios 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3).
On February 15, Djokovic confirmed in an interview with the BBC that he is still not vaccinated. When asked if he was willing to sacrifice the chase for history at events like the French Open at Wimbledon in 2022 in order to avoid getting the jab, the Serb replied: “Yes, that is the price that I’m willing to pay.”
What happened to Djokovic at the 2022 Australian Open?
Novak Djokovic was unable to play the Australian Open in 2022. The world No 1 was told by Tennis Australia that he could have an exemption to play the tournament because he had tested positive for Covid-19 in December 2021. However, when he landed in Australia, Djokovic was questioned by Australian border officials, had his visa revoked and was then held in a detention centre in Melbourne while his case was debated.
Djokovic spent most of the week before the Australian Open in the detention centre as he appealed against the decision to revoke his visa. He won the first appeal but after the Australian government revoked it for a second time, he lost the appeal, the government asserting that letting Djokovic play would give anti-vaccination sentiment a boost.
Djokovic returned to action in the ATP event in Dubai in February, losing in the quarter-final and relinquishing his No 1 ranking to Daniil Medvedev. He did not play in the Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami because unvaccinated people are not allowed to travel to the United States except in select circumstances but has been able to play in Europe during the clay court stretch.
And he was back to his best in Rome, where he won the Rome Masters for a sixth time, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the final.
Has Djokovic ever won the calendar-year Grand Slam?
No, but he came awfully close in 2021. After winning the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic got to within one win of joining Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) and Don Budge (1938) as the only men to win all four majors in the same year.
But his quest for history – and a record 21st Grand Slam title ended when he was beaten in straight sets by Daniil Medvedev in the final.
How many Grand Slams has Djokovic won?
Novak Djokovic has won 21 Grand Slam titles. The Serb has won more titles at the Australian Open than any other player. He owns nine titles in Melbourne and is 18-0 combined in semi-finals and finals at Melbourne Park. The Serb is also a ringer on the Wimbledon grass, where has now won seven titles – the same as his childhood hero Pete Sampras. He is the only man to complete the career Grand Slam twice, having done it for a second time by winning Roland-Garros in 2021.
How many Grand Slams can the Serb win?
While the Serb himself has not publicly spoken about how many Grand Slam titles he will end up eventually, his former coach Marian Vajda believes that there are no limits for Djokovic.
In an interview in the summer of 2019, Vajda said, “We try to live in the present moment, because projecting too far can only be counterproductive. I could say two, three or four years, who knows, all I know is that he is not close to stopping. I do not want to limit him, let him play another year, then another, and then another.”
Meanwhile, tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou believes that Djokovic is in prime physical condition and could win up to 25 to 30 Grand Slams while competing for the next three to four years.
What are his biggest achievements?
Djokovic’s 21 Grand Slam titles puts him in second position in the list for most men’s singles Grand Slam titles list, one ahead of Roger Federer. Rafael Nadal leads the tally with 22 Grand Slam titles.
The Serb has won nine Australian Open titles, seven Wimbledon crowns, two Roland-Garros and three US Open titles. He has also won 88 career titles, including a record 37 Masters 1000 crowns.
On November 6, 2021, his win over Hubert Hurkacz at the Paris Masters ensured he would end the year ranked world No 1 for a record seventh time. For good measure, he beat Daniil Medvedev to win Paris for the sixth time.
Djokovic has also broken the all-time ATP record for weeks at No 1, earlier held by Roger Federer at 310 weeks. Djokovic spent his 311th week as world No 1 in March 2021. As of May 16, 2022, Djokovic has spent a record 370 weeks as the No 1.
Is Novak Djokovic the GOAT?
A recent comment by 14-time Grand Slam champion Pete Sampras, made in November of 2021, is the latest strong comment that points to Djokovic being the best tennis player of all time.
“I do think what Novak’s done over the past 10 years, winning the majors, being consistent, finishing No. 1 for seven years, to me it’s a clear sign that he is the greatest of all time,” Sampras said.
Alexander Zverev, the player Djokovic beat to reach the 2021 US Open final, called the Serb mentally the greatest player in the history of the sport following his five-set loss in the semi-final at Flushing Meadows.
“There is a reason why he’s won 20 Grand Slams [at that time],” Zverev said. “There’s a reason why he’s spent the most weeks at world No. 1. There’s a lot of reasons for that. I think mentally he’s the best player to ever play the game. Mentally in the most important moments I would rather play against anybody else but him.”
Niki Pilic, the former French Open runner-up who coached Djokovic from the age of 12, said there was no doubt in his mind that the Serbian will go down as the best player of all time. “Djokovic has won the most Masters titles, he is the only player to have won every Slam at least twice, and at one point he had almost 17.000 ATP points – in that moment, he accumulated more points than Murray, Nadal and Federer combined. I am not being biased, Novak is the best of all time,” he told a Croatian newspaper.
Has he ever won the Olympic gold medal?
No, the Serb was beaten in the semi-finals in 2008, 2012 and 2016. He won the bronze medal in 2008 but missed out in London and again in Tokyo in 2021, when he lost to Pablo Carreno Busta in the bronze medal match, having been upended by Alexander Zverev, of Germany, in the semi-finals.
When was Djokovic born?
Novak Djokovic was born in Beograd, Yugoslavia, on May 22, 1987.
What is his nationality?
Djokovic is Serbian. He often speaks about his pride to represent his country around the world. “Our country’s image has been really bad,” he explained in an interview for French newspaper L’Equipe in 2014. “So I try to best represent my country, give a positive image, show that we are proud and hospitable.” Djokovic regularly represents Serbia in international competitions. He won the Davis Cup in 2010 and the ATP Cup in 2020 for Serbia, as well as the Hopman Cup (2008, 2013).
He has also competed at four Olympic Games and won a bronze medal in singles back at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Who is his wife?
Jelena Djokovic (formerly Ristic) is Novak’s wife. The couple met in high school and started dating in 2005, when Novak was only 18. They got married in July 2014, in Sveti Stefan, Montenegro.
How many children do they have?
The couple have two children. Their son Stefan was born in Nice on October 21, 2014. Their daughter Tara came in to the world on September 2, 2017.
Who is his coach?
Djokovic is currently coached by Croatia’s Goran Ivanisevic, the Wimbledon champion in 2001 and a former world No 2. After 15 years with Marian Vajda in his team, he split with the Slovakian on March 1, 2022.
Vajda had been coaching Djokovic since June 2006. Before Vajda, Djokovic had worked with Dejan Petrovic and Riccardo Piatti. Periodically helped by Mark Woodforde and Todd Martin, Vajda formed a high-profile coaching duo with Boris Becker from 2014 to 2016. Djokovic split with Vajda in May 2017 and hired Andre Agassi as his main coach. The partnership lasted for just one year. Vajda came back alongside Djokovic in the spring of 2018 and was then joined by Ivanisevic in July 2019.
Who are Djokovic’s parents?
His father Srdjan is Serbian and his mother Dijana, born in Zagar, is from Croatian ascent. They owned the society Family Sports, which ran three restaurants and a tennis academy. Srdjan was a professional skier, like Djokovic’s uncle and aunt, and a decent footballer. He tends to speak out to take his son’s defence or sometimes to criticise his opponents. Djokovic has two brothers, Marko and Djordje. They also played professional tennis, but were not able to successfully transition to the main ATP Tour level.
When did he begin to play tennis?
Novak Djokovic first picked up a racquet at the age of four. Spotted during the summer of 1993 by Jelena Gencic, a former tennis and handball player who then became his coach for six years, he was sent in 1999 to the Pilic Academy in Oberschleißheim, nearby Munich, Germany. In 2001, Djokovic was crowned European junior champion in singles and doubles. He also placed as runner-up at the World Championship with Yugoslavia. His idol was Pete Sampras when he was growing up.
How is Novak Djokovic’s name pronounced?
The English translation for his family name is somewhat true to its phonetic pronunciation: “Djo”, as in “Johnny”, “Ko” as in “Koala”, then “Vitch”, as the C at the end has an accent in Serbian. As for his first name, “No” is pronounced “Gno”, as in “Gnome”, and “Vak” is said as in “Vacuum” – Gno-vak Djo-ko-vitch.