The US Open 2021 had a terrible ending for Novak Djokovic. One step away from history, the number 1 in the world proved to be human. The Serbian phenomenon had the chance to become the second man in the Open Era after Rod Laver to win all four Grand Slams in the same year, a milestone with epic connotations.
In the event of a triumph in the Big Apple, the 34-year-old from Belgrade would perhaps have put an end to the eternal debate on the greatest ever. His dream of putting his 21st career major on the board was shattered by a simply perfect Daniil Medvedev, who used his opponent's bad day to win three sets at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Now we ask ourselves if Nole will be able to find the stimuli after a season as tiring as it is full of satisfactions. In the course of a recent interview with the 'Wide World of Sports' portal, 16-time double Grand Slam champion Todd Woodbridge analyzed the situation of the men's circuit with an eye already on 2022.
Woodbridge comments on Novak Djokovic
“I’m not suggesting Novak Djokovic will fall off a cliff, because he’ll still have the goal of winning a 21st slam,” Woodbridge told Wide World of Sports. “But I think he would love it if [Nadal] came back to challenge him, because that’s the type of motivation an athlete needs.
If Nadal and Federer aren’t there, that’s a much tougher assignment for Novak. With sport, things move on really quickly, new stories, new drama is always created. This tournament was a real pivot in the tennis world.
Things are now going in a completely different direction. I feel that the era of the ‘Big Three’ is over,” the Australian added. "Novak may still win one or two more majors, but I think there’s a feeling that this younger generation now see themselves as Grand Slam winners.
We know the intensity, and the discipline, and the ultra-strong façade of Novak, but we saw him break. Whenever you see that in an athlete, you don’t know how they’re going to recover”. Djokovic has in the past been doubted with regards to his motivation, perhaps most notably following his completion of the Career Grand Slam in 2016 at Roland Garros, marking a 12th Slam title.
He has since gone on to secure eight more Slams, including another Roland Garros title, to match the tallies of Federer and Nadal on 20 Majors each.