Novak Djokovic on Sunday won his sixth straight Australian Open title and his 11th Grand Slam to join a pantheon of greats in the sport of tennis. Only Roger Federer with 17, Rafael Nadal 14, Pete Sampras 14 and Roy Emerson 12m have more than the Serbian, who now has as many titles as Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver.
Bill Tilden with 10 is the only other tennis player in history with double-digit number of titles.
The thing is you get the feeling that Djokovic is about to climb even higher and could eventually challenge Federer’s record. Why? Simply because as of right now, the 28-year-old Serbian is so much better than the elite of today’s elite in men’s tennis.
As of the end of the Australian Open Djokovic is 23-22 against Roger Federer following his master-class performance against the Swiss in the semi-finals. In recent times he has also owned the Spaniard Nadal as was demonstrated by the recent 6-1, 6-2 demolition witnessed at the 2016 Qatar Open. He also has the measure of Andy Murray whom following his straight-sets wins in Melbourne he has now beaten seven times in their last nine meetings in Grand Slam finals.
In 2015, Djokovic won the Australian Open for the fifth consecutive time, and he also won Wimbledon and the US Open. This impression run that has come under the watchful eye of his coach, tennis great Boris Becker, has seen Djokovic win four of the last five major titles.
And, with three other majors ahead this year if he can maintain his current form, he could have 12 or 13 by the end of the year. The French Open title has managed to remain elusive but perhaps this could be his year given the psychological advantage he holds over nine-time champion Rafael Nadal and everyone else.
His dominance has been further demonstrated by his winning consecutive tour finals from 2012-2015. Djokovic has risen and there is nobody to stop him.
There is not much mystery about why he has become so good. Djokovic, one of the best returners in the game is all about speed and power. He hits the ball as hard as anyone and he is faster than them all. He now covers the court better than Nadal ever did. His game is the perfect blend of Federer and Nadal and that has made him the very best in today’s game of baseline, power tennis.
It will be hard for him to maintain this kind of form given the intensity of the schedule on the circuit but if he can replicate what Federer achieved in winning so many majors during the latter part of the last decade it is not inconceivable that Novak Djokovic could be approaching 17 Grand Slam titles by the end of 2017.
That is, if no one figures out a way to outgun and to outrun him.