Stefanos Tsitsipas says Novak Djokovic is the greatest tennis player of all time based on accomplishments but Roger Federer had a greater impact on the sport.
Djokovic is back at No.1 in the ATP rankings and the owner of 24 major championships, a record for the Open era and tied with Margaret Court for the most in the history of tennis.
Djokovic’s US Open title, gave him three slam trophies this season, each by beating a much younger opponent in the final.
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He went 27-1 at the majors in 2023, losing only in July’s Wimbledon final in five sets against 20-year-old Carlos Alcaraz.
In June’s Roland-Garros final, he got past Casper Ruud and in January’s Australian Open final, Djokovic defeated Tsitsipas. Both were 24 at the time, while Medvedev, the man he beat at Flushing Meadows, is 27.
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Speaking to Greek publication Kathimerini, world No.5 Tsitsipas said the topic of tennis’ men’s GOAT is a complex multi-layered argument. When asked about Djokovic’s achievements, the Greek star said he was in awe of his will to win, since he has nothing left to prove.
“If we go by the numbers, Novak Djokovic is definitely the best,” Tsitsipas said. “He breaks one record after another. And he keeps the thirst, while he has nothing left to prove.
“That’s his character. He’s never happy. It’s like he’s always trying to prove something to someone. I don’t know what and to whom. It’s like he wants revenge. His eye shines.”
Over his career, Djokovic has won exactly a third of the 72 slams in which he’s participated. After going 12-9 in grand slam finals during his 20s — when the losses came against Federer, Nadal, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka — he is 12-3 in his 30s, with losses against Rafael Nadal, Alcaraz and, at the 2021 US Open to Daniil Medvedev.
Since the start of the 2021 season, Djokovic has won seven of the 10 majors he entered and was the runner-up at another (he was unable to participate in two because he isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19).
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“You need to reinvent yourself, because everyone else does,” said Djokovic after his US Open victory.
“As a 36-year-old competing with 20-year-olds, I probably have to do it more than I have ever done it.”
A question was put to his coach, 2001 Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic, about whether Djokovic might walk away if he gets a 25th major trophy to surpass Court.
Ivanisevic’s reply: “I don’t think so, no. No, he’s planning to play (at the) Olympic Games in Los Angeles.”
That’s scheduled for 2028, by which time Djokovic will be 41.
“If he wins 25, he’s going to think, ‘If I win 25, why not 26?’ It’s always one more, something more,” Ivanisevic added. “He’s taking care of his body. He’s taking care of everything. Every single detail has to be perfect, prepared.”
Despite the long list of accolades and a burning desire to win, Tsitsipas views Federer as the most important figure in the sport in recent times, not Djokovic.
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The Greek player has spoken of his respect for the Swiss Master since his childhood years and revealed ahead of the Australian Open that he wants to be Federer’s “successor” in keeping the single-handed backhand in his game.
“(If the criteria is) who has inspired the world the most and who has had the biggest impact, it’s definitely Federer, by a wide margin,” Tsitsipas said.
“I don’t think there will be anyone else who can match him.”