Novak Djokovic has been backed to end his career with the most Grand Slams despite his loss to Rafael Nadal in the French Open quarter-final. The Spaniard leads the race for the most men’s Major titles with 21 while Djokovic and Roger Federer have 20 each, and the world No 1 has been denied the chance to equal his rival who could now extend his lead by winning a 22nd Grand Slam in Paris.
Djokovic defeated Nadal in last year’s semi-final en route to winning a second French Open crowd but the Spaniard got revenge 12 months later, ousting the top seed 6-2 4-6 6-2 7-6(4) in the quarter-final. It means the world No 5 is still on to extend his all-time record of men’s Grand Slam singles titles to 22 if he wins the tournament for the 14th time on Sunday.
But a Serbian former pro has now given his verdict, claiming the win will make the world No 1 even more hungry and help him end his career with the Grand Slam record. “This is a difficult defeat, but Novak will come out even stronger and more motivated to break the record in Grand Slams,” Nenad Zimonjic told K1.
“Federer and Nadal had a huge advantage, but he overtook and overtook them. He will break the record that he lacks.” The eight-time doubles Grand Slam champion also noted that Wimbledon was next, where Djokovic has won the title in the last three editions of the tournament, but advised his compatriot to play a warm-up tournament or risk having his ranking drop further.
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But Zimonjic was full of belief for the 20-time Major champion, admitting that he thought Djokovic would have come out on top if he held onto his 5-2 lead in the fourth set and forced a decider. He added: “I hoped that Novak would win the fourth set, he played better tactically and I believed that if he entered the fifth set, he would emerge as the winner.”
Though the former doubles world No 1 was also full of praise for Nadal and Roger Federer and the era of tennis they had created with Djokovic. Nadal was very lucky at the beginning, but he played much much more aggressively. “We should be overjoyed to witness the phenomenal era of tennis. That level of tennis, where Federer, Nadal and Novak went and how they pushed the boundaries and inspired each other to be even better, is amazing,” he said.