Novak Djokovic is threatening to reduce men’s tennis to the Big One after matching Roger Federer for the most dominant grand slam season in 45 years.
In a truly golden generation, tennis first marvelled at the compelling Big Two rivalry between Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic crashed the party with his supreme 2011 campaign before Andy Murray made it a Big Four with his US Open, Wimbledon, Olympic gold medal treble.
Injuries and illness have stalled Nadal’s career, while Andy Murray hasn’t been able to add to his grand slam collection in more than two years and the Scot’s fourth-round exit from the US Open was his worst performance at a major since 2010.
Their back-to-back finals duels at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows, plus clashes in four other title matches in 2015, suggested tennis was suddenly back to a Big Two of Djokovic and Federer.
In reality, despite their career series now deadlocked at 21 wins apiece after Djokovic’s pulsating 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-4 victory in New York, Federer has only managed to conquer the mighty Serb one over five sets in six meetings over the past five seasons.
With no weaknesses, the tennis super Novak went within two sets this year of becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to pull off the fabled calendar-year grand slam sweep.
Djokovic’s 27-1 season at the majors not only equalled Federer’s twin feat in 2006 and 2007 but, for all the (deserved) hype for Serena Williams’ grand slam quest, also bettered her 26-1 return in 2015.
It’s only September, but Djokovic has already clinched the year-end No.1 ranking for a fourth time and says doing so will only allow him to play with added freedom as he continues his pursuit of tennis perfection and grand slam spoils.
“Knowing I will end the year at No.1 keeps my mind relaxed,” Djokovic said on Monday as he basked in the glory of a 10th career major.
“I have achieved a lot so far in the season and I hope I can deliver the same game for the rest of the year.”
Three-times a runner-up at Roland Garros, Djokovic remains desperate to claim an elusive French Open crown and already tennis types are contemplating the prospect of Djokovic snaring all four big ones in 2016.
At 28 and at the peak of his powers, Djokovic believes it’s possible and such a haul would elevate the Serb to alongside Nadal and Pete Sampras behind only Federer on the all-time men’s grand slam leaderboard.
Before that, Djokovic can take his next giant stride towards sporting immortality with a record sixth Australian Open crown in January to join legends Laver and Bjorn Borg with 11 slams.
Then next stop Paris and another attempt to reach his tennis Holy Grail.