'When I knew Novak Djokovic, I would have anticipated...', says former No.1

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'When I knew Novak Djokovic, I would have anticipated...', says former No.1

With qualifying tournaments starting yesterday afternoon, the next edition of the US Open is set to put on a great show for all tennis fans. Unfortunately, there will be many absences that will affect the last Grand Slam of the year.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will not be at Flushing Meadows for the second year in a row. The Swiss champion has not fully recovered from his knee injury and was unable to express himself to the best of his ability at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

Precisely for this reason, Federer has decided to undergo a new surgery in the hope of returning to the court at the Australian Open 2022. The season is also over for Nadal, who on his debut in Washington complained of severe discomfort in his left foot; a nuisance that prevented him from competing in the Toronto and Cininnati Masters 1000 and that affected the final choice made by the Mallorcan.

The injury turned out to be more serious than expected and will keep Nadal in the pits for the remainder of 2021. Dominic Thiem, who is also injured, will not be able to defend the title he won last year. The Austrian experienced one of the most difficult years of his career and had to deal with a problem with his right wrist in Mallorca.

Novak Djokovic already holds most of the notable records in men's tennis. The Serbian is the only man who has won every Major and Masters 1000 event twice, and has spent the most weeks at World No. 1.

Andy Murray reflects on Novak Djokovic

Andy Murray will lock horns with third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in a marquee first-round encounter at the 2021 US Open.

And ahead of the big clash, Murray was seen practicing on the courts with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic at the Billie Jean King Centre. "He had, like, unbelievable flexibility and stuff, was able to defend the corners extremely well," Murray said.

"Not that Roger and Rafa don't defend very well, but it's more the way that Novak moves, it's quite different. The way he can slide into his backhand like even on hard courts and stuff, he shrinks the court that way.

So, yeah, I don't think at 19, 20 years old, and when I knew him when we were 13, 14, I would have anticipated he'd go on to do what he's done," the Scot added. "Knew he was a great player, but to be doing what he's doing is very, very special."