Janko Tipsarevic: Novak Djokovic could be the greatest sportsman in history

Janko Tipsarevic had some fascinating words to say about his compatriot

Janko Tipsarevic Janko Tipsarevic (© Panoramic)

A few years ago, Janko Tipsarevic said something very interesting about Novak Djokovic. As much as he admired everything his fellow Serb was doing when it comes to trying to improve the tennis world, Tipsarevic said he wished his friend would just focus on tennis so he could achieve everything he was capable of achieving in the sport.

The former top 10 player, one of Djokovic’s best friends on Tour and still since he retired, was at Roland-Garros on Sunday to watch Djokovic as he won his 23rd Grand Slam title, a new men’s record.

Tipsarevic said Djokovic had not done what he’d hoped, but the fact that he has continued to fight the causes he wants to elevates his achievements even further.

His mind is racing 700 miles per hour

Janko Tipsarevic

“His mind is racing 700 miles per hour,” he said, in an interview at Roland-Garros on Sunday. “So it’s very difficult for him to be focussed on one particular thing.

“He obviously has an incredible on and off button in terms of of only focusing for big events, but also increasing his level round after round.

“Now you could see that he’s not the same player in round one as he is in the in the finals, you know, all respect to Casper Ruud, but even today, this wasn’t the Novak that we know how he can play. So my point is that what he is doing is actually unprecedented.”

Is he the greatest athlete of all time?

Djokovic’s third Roland-Garros title moved him above Rafael Nadal onto 23 Grand Slams, level with Serena Williams and one behind the all-time leader, Margaret Court. For so long, the discussion has been whether Djokovic is the greatest tennis player of all time; now, according to Tipsarevic, the debate needs to be widened to all sports.

“I know I am biased, as he’s one of my closest friends, but for me, the goat discussion in tennis was done two years ago,” he said.

“He didn’t need to win one more slam than Rafa or whatever to be the tennis GOAT (greatest of all time). This was done two years ago. The question needs to start to be asked: ‘Is he the greatest athlete of all time?’

“This is very difficult to measure because you cannot measure achievements – we saw Tom Brady today, whether Muhammad Ali, (Lionel) Messi or whatever, this part is unmeasurable, but this is a discussion that you could potentially have because the tennis GOAT discussion is, for me, simple – with all due respect to his competitors.”

Djokovic Roland-Garros 2023
© AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Is Novak playing better than ever?

In the second and third sets against Ruud, when Djokovic dropped nine points on serve in total and began to wind up his forehand, it seemed as if the 36-year-old was playing as well, if not better than at any time in his career.

Tipsarevic said he felt Djokovic had played better on a couple of other occasions but said he is handling difficult situations better than ever.

“The part which is unmeasurable is the brain,” he said. “You cannot measure how mentally he’s able to control his emotions, pace himself, control how he reacts, how he behaves, controls the match. This part comes with experience. So if we are purely talking about shot execution, no, he was better at other tournaments but mentally (he is).

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