Novak Djokovic cannot be disappointed for a Major semi-final



by LORENZO CIOTTI

Novak Djokovic cannot be disappointed for a Major semi-final
© Graham Denholm / Stringer Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic has updated one of the most incredible records of his career, despite the disappointment of the elimination in the semi-finals of the 2024 edition of the Australian Open.

The Serbian champion has reached the 410th week as number one in the ATP world ranking, an impressive record that Nole has cultivated in all these years, full of successes and satisfactions.

The 36-year-old is increasingly unreachable in this special ranking, given that no one in history has ever managed to come close to his finish line. Roger Federer, second in terms of number of weeks spent at the top of the rankings, is at 310.

Next is Pete Sampras who completes the podium at 286. Then the Americans Ivan Lendl and Jimmy Connors, quite close with 270 and 268 respectively. Sixth is the Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who has been in the lead for 209 weeks overall.

Djokovic
Djokovic© Julian Finney / Staff Getty Images Sport
 

Although he lost several points for not confirming himself in Melbourne, Djokovic could retain the top of the rankings for the next few months. The opponents who follow him, although closer after the event in Australia, will have several points to defend in February and March. Only a great exploit, which should not be underestimated, would compromise the Serbian's plans to defend the throne. The ambition remains to reach the unthinkable 500 weeks at the top of the ranking.

But how can it be considered the Australian Major of the Serbian tennis star? Let's start with a fact. Djokovic reached the semi-finals, not the first round. He didn't win, didn't reach the final and showed stuttering tennis throughout the tournament. Djokovic seemed to lack physical energy, especially as seen in the match against Jannik Sinner. The Serbian did not reveal whether or not he suffered any physical problems, but gave all the credit for the victory to Sinner. But this time his steely mind couldn't reach where his legs couldn't.

Could this be the moment of Serbian champion decline? Absolutely not, I really don't think so. A disappointing tournament (if we can consider a Slam semi-final disappointing...) can happen, even in a Slam. I am convinced that starting from Indian Wells or Miami, if he decides to play, Nole will again be the man to beat, together with Sinner.

Then it's clear, sooner or later the moment will come when Nole will no longer be able to physically hold his own against today's young people. What I saw in Melbourne is that the Serbian has suffered some physical problems since the start of the tournament. Then, at the same time, I'm also sure of another thing: Djokovic or not, Sinner would probably have won the tournament anyway.

Nole will probably change his schedule, to recover optimally from a physical point of view. To be ready to fight to the end again in another Slam and in the tournaments that matter.

In an interview with L'Equipe, Patrick Mouratoglou highlighted how Novak's era is absolutely not over: "It's difficult to talk about a change of era considering last season.​ Nole is still at a slightly higher level and has shown several times that he can handle the pressure. When others have demonstrated it, we will see if there will be a generational change," he declared.

Nole recalls what happened in 2022 in Melbourne

For a couple of seasons now, the Australian trip has been capable of evoking both beautiful and exciting and sad and dark memories in Novak Djokovic. No one has won the Australian Open more times than him.

The Serbian has won ten times and before the defeat suffered by Jannik Sinner he had never lost in the semi-finals in this tournament. Despite the successes and special moments, it is impossible to remove what happened in 2022.

Djokovic, who had initially received a medical exemption because he was not vaccinated, was stopped at the entrance and spent several days inside the Park Hotel in Melbourne, a dilapidated structure that the Australian government uses to house groups of migrants and asylum seekers asylum.

In the end, the Serbian was unable to take part in the first Slam of the year due to the decision taken directly by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke. An experience that Djokovic has shown he can put aside in some circumstances but which he will never forget.

This contrast of sensations also emerged during the interview given to the Today programme, when the 36-year-old joked before turning serious again and telling the truth about himself.

"Every time I take the field on Rod Laver Arena, the wonderful memories I experienced in previous years in Australia and everything I have achieved come back to my mind. I'd say I've had fun every single year except one! It was a short stay that time and I didn't get to see much of the city. It's one of the experiences that I will never forget and that has left a strong mark on my life," he explained.

Novak Djokovic