‘That’s not because Novak Djokovic’s not a good guy’, says legend

20-time Major winner Novak Djokovic became the first player to qualify for the ATP Finals in Turin in November. The Serb claimed the 20th Major title and the third of the season at Wimbledon, leaving behind all rivals such as Melbourne and Paris and equaling the record of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. With 7170 points, Novak is the clear leader of the ATP Race to Turin, racking up more points than Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini and Andrey Rublev combined, despite being third and fourth in the standings! As we already said, Novak has won all 21 matches in the Majors in 2021, accumulating 6000 points in just three tournaments and securing his fourteenth appearance in the ATP Finals in the last 15 years, losing it only in 2017! Thus, Novak became the fifth player with at least 14 appearances in the ATP Finals after Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, hoping to play well in the first edition of this event in Turin and claim the first title since 2015. Djokovic has won 34 of 37 matches this year, losing three consecutive clay-court tournaments but conquering the most prestigious tournaments to enter the history books. After tight victories over Denis Shapovalov and Alexander Zverev in the ATP Cup, Djokovic clinched the ninth Australian Open title despite an abdominal injury in the third round. The Serb defeated Daniil Medvedev in the title clash and took a couple of months off before failing to clinch the title in Monte Carlo, Belgrade and Rome. Rafael Nadal stopped Djokovic in the final in the Italian capital before Novak bounced back at Roland Garros, conquering Paris for the second time after beating Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek led two sets to zero in the final, but it was not enough to secure victory for him as Djokovic dominated the remaining three sets for the 19th Major title. En route to Wimbledon as the top seed, Djokovic clinched the sixth All England Club trophy after losing two sets in seven games. Playing well above his rivals, Novak defeated Denis Shapovalov and Matteo Berrettini to emerge at the top and celebrate the 20th Major trophy and equal the record of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Bhupathi on Novak Djokovic

Indian tennis great Mahesh Bhupathi recently claimed that Novak Djokovic’s mental strength and ability to deal with pressure situations are the best amongst the Big 3. But Bhupathi also believes Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have their own set of unique attributes, making it difficult to pick one among the trio as the GOAT. “He already has most of the records locked up. Most weeks at No 1, most prize-money won,” Bhupathi said. “However, Novak will always rank three in the popularity context. That’s not because he’s (Novak Djokovic) not a good guy,” the Indian added. “It’s because he has been a street-fighter when it comes to digging out matches from the start of his career and has since then developed a love-hate relationship with tennis fans.” The 47-year-old believes the Big 3 has given tennis its best era, and reiterated that he considers himself fortunate to have witnessed the trio at their best. “Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have continued to push the bar to dizzying heights and in the process have given us the Golden Age of men’s tennis,” the Indian continued. “I for one have had a front row seat during this amazing time.”