Novak Djokovic's last milestones to remember the best sportsman ever

The Serbian is increasingly becoming a legend in tennis and beyond: with three more records he could be crowned the greatest athlete of all time

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Novak Djokovic's last milestones to remember the best sportsman ever
© Clive Brunskill / Staff Getty Images Sport

What will we have left of these 20 years of tennis? There are names who have written indelible pages of history, transcending sport, becoming pop icons, idolized by the crowds. Positive mass agitators, bearers of various kinds of messages. Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher, Pelé and Diego Madaradona, Babe Ruth and Tom Brady, Serena Williams, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. When we think of sports icons, these names immediately come to mind.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic© Getty Images Sport - Clive Mason
 

And Novak Djokovic is the closest man to being crowned the greatest sportsman of all time. It's the right time to say it. After last night's epic victory, in which he emerged victorious against Lorenzo Musetti in 5 sets, the Serbian champion did it once again, and came out of a match that seemed sealed, in the 4th round of the Roland Garros. This time it was the Argentine Francisco Cerundolo who succumbed, forcing the Serbian to do the impossible again, also due to a knee injury. Nole is in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros: 370 career victories achieved in Slams. Something legendary. Extraordinary numbers that certify the immense greatness of the 37-year-old from Belgrade. Thanks to this success, the 24-time Slam champion has definitively overtaken Roger Federer, at 369. Behind the Swiss Maestro, Rafael Nadal (314), Jimmy Connors (233), Andre Agassi (224).

But it is not just the only great goal that Djokovic has achieved. No one has reached more quarter-finals than him in a Slam. Also in this case it was Federer who paid the price, who was overtaken by Djokovic, who reached 59. The Serbian, at the end of the match, exhausted but very happy, wanted to thank the crowd who pushed him into yet another feat.

"I have to thank you very much. The victory belongs to the public, I had to come back from a two set deficit in the last match, but you gave me all this energy again. I was one step away from losing this match. I also want to congratulate Cerúndolo's great game that deserved more," he told.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic © Getty Images Sport - Clive Mason
 

What is missing from this extraordinary 37 year old boy to be crowned the greatest sportsman ever? What more needs to be asked of Djokovic to be recognized as such? There are three other milestones in particular that, if he were to achieve, he would be elevated to the god of sport. Olympic gold is the last major title missing from the Serbian champion's collection. This year at Olympic Paris there will be the last great opportunity of his career to win the Olympic gold in singles.

But before the Olympic tournament, there is another great achievement that Nole could achieve. A possible victory at Wimbledon, in fact, would mean his 8th title; a record that Djokovic would share with Federer. Sooner or later Nole will achieve the third and final major milestone: winning his 25th Slam, with which he would definitively surpass Margaret Court (they are both at 24 Majors in singles). It will be a fiery few months for the Serbian champion, which could make him a true god among all sportsmen.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

Meanwhile, speaking at the press conference after the victory over Cerundolo, Djokovic criticized the board of the Parisian Major and the state of the courts, as well as questioning his presence in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros due to the injury to knee.

"At a certain point I asked myself whether to continue playing or not, given what was happening. After the third set I asked for more medicine. I took the maximum dose I could take and I started feeling the effects in the fourth set. I felt fewer limitations in my movements. In the fifth set I played without pain, but the effect of the drugs doesn't last forever, so we'll see. I'll do some tests tomorrow. I asked for physiotherapy because I was in pain. This affected my game. For two sets I didn't want to participate in many rallies. If he made drop shots or changes of direction, I didn't feel comfortable in the rallies. Due to the climate, this year's conditions are a bit special. There has been a lot of rain, very heavy, and this affects the terrain. This is a living surface, like grass. The earth can be treated, not like grass. Roland Garros is the tournament that treats clay best, without a doubt. I think today's sun affected the clay in some way. I don't know what they did, but it seems like they took something out of the clay that isn't present on the pitch. My injury happened because, due to this, the ground becomes very slippery.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

I have a very aggressive movement, with very sudden changes in direction. The number of slips I had today was excessive I have played other tournaments with torn muscles in the past. The adrenaline we feel also helps us. The positive aspect of a Slam is that you have a day of rest between matches, and this can help recovery. I don't know what will happen tomorrow. I don't know if I will be able to play on Wednesday. I hope so. I asked the chair umpire if they could sweep the court more. Maybe not every rally, but every two or three. I was told no. They asked the supervisor and he also refused. I don't want to point fingers, I'm just trying to figure out what the problem is with sweeping the court more often. It doesn't hurt anyone. It would be a good thing for the players, putting more dirt and sweeping more. It would reduce the amount of slips. For a few weeks I had some small knee problems, but nothing serious. Then I slipped in the 2nd set and felt pain. I took a lot of painkillers and they started to take effect at the end of the quarter. I don't know if I'll play in the quarter-finals, we'll wait and see," explained Nole.

Novak Djokovic
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