All Clear for Slam 17? If Djokovic Plays, He’ll Be Heavy Favorite
The current tennis season is very much fluid no thanks to the current health situation. That said, fans can start looking forward to the 140th US Open, which may well feature 7 of the world’s 10 highest ranked male players. Australian Open 2020 winner Novak Djokovic will reportedly headline the tournament, unless he decides to pull out. And that, unfortunately, is still a possibility, with The Guardian reporting how Djokovic remains undecided as far as playing in New York is concerned.
“[Djokovic] still hasn’t made a decision in regard to his participation at the US Open”, tweeted Sasa Ozmo of leading Serb sports website Sportklub. “Decision in the next few days.”
Should Djokovic play, he will give the US Open some much needed star power given the absence of rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, with the former opting out due to scheduling concerns and the latter sidelined by injury. That means the Serbian will be the most accomplished player in the tournament as well — by far. While behind Federer and Nadal in terms of Grand Slam titles, he is the most successful player financially. ExpatBets, who cover numerous sports, listed Djokovic as number 1 on their feature on the richest tennis players with career earnings upwards of $130 million (C$173 million). Djokovic is also the world’s number 1 tennis player in men’s singles at the moment. His résumé speaks for itself, too: 5 ATP Finals titles, 13 ATP Tour 500 medals, and 33 ATP Tour Masters 1000. Most impressively, The Djoker has won 16 Grand Slams, which is 4 shy of Federer’s all-time record of 20, and 3 fewer than Nadal’s 19.
More than giving the US Open its biggest name, Djokovic will give the tournament its prohibitive favourite. That’s because the 33-year-old Serbian has long been one of tennis’ elite, and is in the midst of arguably the best stretch of his career. The world number 1 has held that spot for over 280 weeks now, and has won 5 of his 16 Grand Slams in the past 3 years, including the last Australian Open. He has also won the US Open three times — the last time being in 2018 when he beat Martin del Potro in straight sets in the finals.
In last year’s US Open, Djokovic again entered as one of the favourites, having won 4 of the previous 5 Grand Slams. Unfortunately, the Serbian was slowed down by a troublesome left shoulder. In his match recap for The New York Times, sports writer David Waldstein notes how the injury made Djokovic “look at times like a clumsy, ineffective player compared to the invincible star he can be when healthy.” The injury ultimately forced Djokovic to retire in his 4th round match against Stan Wawrinka — ironically, the last man to beat him at this same tournament (in the 2016 final, just before the Serbian went supernova).
This year, Djokovic will be relatively injury-free (save for a recent bout with illness), and will be gunning for Grand Slam number 17. With Federer and Nadal — Djokovic’s two greatest rivals — on the sidelines, the likelihood of that happening is as high as it has ever been. The world number 1 will surely nab the top seed, which will guarantee a less perilous path to the finals. Indeed, another Slam is there for the taking for Djokovic. But first, he’ll have to decide if he’s coming to New York or not. For more tennis news do check out our articles Tennis Connected.