KT edit: When Djoker turned thinker and magician on the court

The Serb champ could go all the way to become the greatest of all time. GOAT, they call it.

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Published: Mon 14 Jun 2021, 11:38 PM

Statistics are for the meek, not for the spirited like Novak Djokovic who brings a machine-like precision to tennis. Or is there some magic in his game that may have reached its zenith? Regardless of the ingredients that define his game, his performances have electrified, even shocked, spectators from the slumber of the pandemic. At 34, the stars are shining down on Djokovic as he towers in tennis intelligence while doing those routine Houdini acts on court.

The Serb champ could go all the way to become the greatest of all time. GOAT, they call it. We will have to wait and watch. But he’s almost there. For now, we shall call him The King of the Court — if he maintains the big tournament winning streak that just bagged him the French Open. With his latest triumph, he has won all four Grand Slams twice in his glittering career, a distinction that places him a rung above the pantheon of greats.

Fitness permitting, he is just shy of Rafael Nadal’s and Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles. The Serb may lack the finesse and artistry of Federer, the Swiss master, or the raw power of Rafa. What, however, makes him special is his indefatigable spirit where defeat is not an option but only a troubled path to eventual victory. Perhaps he could have made it easier and spared us those escape acts he is famous for, or did he want us to enjoy the show longer from the edge of our seats? We shall never know.

He plots his act, he studies, he teases his foes on the other side of the net. He improvises, changes the tempo, and delivers under pressure, not allowing the situation or crowd support (or the lack thereof) to get the better of him.

The champion has never been a spectator favourite but he’s getting there, growing up and becoming human again off the court. He gifted his racquet to a young fan after the final against Stefanos Tsitsipas, 12 years his junior. It wouldn’t be wrong to say the Greek, who almost had it in the bag, was schooled in the art of magical turnarounds by the Serb champion. What’s remarkable about Djokovic is that he never takes his talent for granted. Instead, he makes it work for him by working harder in the court. He labours and waits for his chances and crafts his victories. As he grabs more Slams and other major titles, Djokovic wants us to love him and his game more. Once disparagingly called the Djoker, the world number one has transformed into both thinker and magician on the court. Who knows, he might just be the next king of tennis hearts.

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