Novak Djokovic served up the perfect response to those who doubted his dominance at the top of the men’s game by lifting his third French Open title and 23rd Grand Slam in Paris on Sunday.
Since winning his first Grand Slam at the Australian Open in 2008, Djokovic has been chasing Rafael Nadal (22 major title wins) and Roger Federer (20 major title wins) in a battle to secure a place in the history books as the ultimate king of tennis, and now, he is eyeing up even more glory. The Serb’s immaculate display to beat Norway’s Casper Ruud 7-6 (1) 6-3 7-5 allowed him to draw level with Serena Williams in winning his 23rd major and the chance to equal Margaret Court’s all-time singles record of 24 at Wimbledon next month.
Meanwhile, on the women’s side, the trophy was claimed by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The Polish star put on an outstanding display against Czech player Karolina Muchova in a tense showdown that took Swiatek to her third French Open title.
WHAT NOVAK SAID
“It was a special day for me. To get to 23 Grand Slams and move ahead of Roger (Federer) and Rafa (Nadal) is something that has been occupying my mind for the last 15 years quite a lot. So, it’s amazing to know that I’m one ahead.
“I don’t want to say that I am the greatest because I feel it’s disrespectful towards all the great champions in different eras of a sport that was played in a completely different way than it is today.
“So, I leave those kinds of discussions of who is the greatest to someone else. I have of course huge faith, confidence and belief in myself, in everything that I am, and for what I am capable of doing.
“I feel incredibly proud and fulfilled. Of course, the journey is still not over. I feel if I’m winning slams, why even think about ending the career that has already been going on for 20 years?
“I still feel motivated and inspired to play the best tennis at these tournaments. I look forward already to Wimbledon.”
VIEW OF DJOKOVIC’S COACH GORAN IVANESEVIC
“It’s incredible and he wants more. Grand Slams are the goal now. I don’t know how many, but I think he has in his body a lot more.
“When he comes out on the court you see how much he enjoys to practice, how much he enjoys to hit winners, how much he enjoys working on little details.
“Winning in front of the unbelievable crowd in Paris at an unbelievable stadium showed what he can do all over again.
“He’s keeping his body strong, he’s in great shape. Thank God not too many injuries.
“It’s fascinating to see because sometimes you think, ‘OK, now you have 23’. But he’s going to find, again, some kind of motivation to win 24, maybe 25, who knows where is the end.”
RISE OF SWIATEK
Iga Swiatek started 2022 as a rising star in the game, but that was before the shock retirement of Ashleigh Barty and her climb into the top of the WTA Rankings.
Now she is firmly established as the best female player in the world, and while she lost her way at times, an impressive display in the women’s final at the French Open against Czech opponent Karolina Muchova has proved the 22-year-old is eager for more.
“I’m feeling all these different emotions right now,” said Swiatek. “It’s pretty surreal to win here again and the match was really intense, a lot of ups and downs. So, I’m pretty happy that at the end, I could be solid in those few last games and finish it.
“This one, for sure, it was a little bit tougher in terms of injuries and the pressure, and also coming back to this tournament as a defending champion.
“I’m happy that I finished the whole clay court season so well and that I kind of survived. I guess I’m never going to doubt my strength again.”
ALL COURT TENNIS CLUB VERDICT
Djokovic and Swiatek cemented their status as the players to beat heading into the grass court season, but they will arrive at Wimbledon next month with contrasting expectations.
Seven-time Wimbledon champion Djokovic will be the outstanding favourite to win another title at the All England Club if he stays fit and plays to his potential.
As for Swiatek, the best performance she has managed at Wimbledon was a run to the fourth round in 2021, with her struggle to adapt to grass court due, in part, to her lack of experience on the surface.
So, the women’s draw at Wimbledon will be wide open when the Championship gets underway on July 3rd, with as many as ten players firmly in the mix to lift the title.