“Mentally he’s the best player to ever play the game” – Zverev calls Djokovic the G.O.A.T.

After going down to Djokovic in a five-set battle at the US Open, Zverev pays tribute to the Serb, who is now within one win away from winning the calendar Grand Slam

© Robert Deutsch / AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Alexander Zverev described Novak Djokovic as best player mentally to ever play the sport after going down to the Serb in the US Open semi-finals on Friday in a five-set battle.

Zverev started the match by winning the first set 6-4, raising hopes of a repeat of his Tokyo Olympics win over Djokovic. But the Serb was not to be denied this time. Djokovic fought back to win the second and third sets. Even as Zverev won the fourth set to level the match at two sets apiece, it was Djokovic who dominated the fifth set and won the match 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in three hours and 33 minutes.

Disappointed as he was by his semi-final loss, Zverev acknowledged that he left everything he had on the court and described the Serb as the toughest player mentally to play against.

“He plays the best tennis when he needs to, which a lot of players don’t. That’s why he’s the world No. 1. He comes up with the best tennis when he needs to. We play 55-shot rallies. The only way for me to win that rally is to hit a forehand winner. That says it all, on a set point.”

“There is a reason why he’s won 20 Grand Slams. 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.”

“How do you compete with that” – Zverev calls Djokovic the G.O.A.T.

Zverev, who is now 3-7 against Djokovic after this loss, called the Serb is the Greatest of All Time, when it comes down to the stats. The German said what Djokovic is on the verge of accomplishing is great for the sport of tennis. The 34-year-old will take on Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final on Sunday with a chance to win a men’s record 21st Grand Slam singles title and the calendar Grand Slam.

“I think it’s great for the sport. Nobody thought anybody will do it again, what Rod Laver did. To see him have the chance on Sunday, I do believe that he will do it is great. He’s breaking every single record that there is. If you look at the stats, if you look the pure game of tennis action, he’s the greatest of all time. Nobody is there with him, because most weeks world No. 1, most Masters 1000s titles, most likely going to be the most Grand Slams at the end of the day. And he has the chance of winning all four in the same year. How do you compete with that?”

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