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It will be a "major surprise" if Novak Djokovic does not win 25 Grand Slams, says tennis legend John McEnroe.
Djokovic, 34, claimed a record-equalling 20th men's title by beating Italy's Matteo Berrettini in Sunday's Wimbledon final, matching the record held by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Only Margaret Court, Serena Williams and Steffi Graf have more, but McEnroe expects Djokovic to surpass them too.
"Djokovic is playing better than he has ever played," he told BBC Sport.
"I think he will probably win at least four or five more, obviously depending on staying healthy."
After triumphing in the Australian Open and French Open too, Serbia's Djokovic has now won all three Grand Slam titles this year.
With the Olympics and US Open coming up, he could emulate Graf's 1988 'Golden Slam', though says he is "50/50" about playing in Tokyo.
"Djokovic has put himself so far out in front of everyone in terms of his ability to embrace what he is doing – in terms of creating history – and being able to execute under a lot of stress," said McEnroe, who won seven Grand Slam singles titles.
"You're trying to break the all-time records – there is a lot of pressure. He's able to play his best tennis at this point.
"You expect that to go on for another couple of years, unless someone steps up and realises how great they are."
What defines the 'GOAT'?
- 1 What defines the 'GOAT'?
- 2 Winning Roland Garros & Wimbledon 'most difficult task'
- 2.1 Comments
- 2.2 Join the conversation
- 2.3 Comment posted by Holroyd, today at 00:03Holroyd
- 2.4 Comment posted by Dave F, today at 00:02Dave F
- 2.5 Comment posted by Jaco, today at 00:00Jaco
- 2.6 Comment posted by Dissociation, at 23:59 11 JulDissociation
- 2.7 Reply posted by AFCDale, today at 00:02AFCDale
- 2.8 Comment posted by The-Artful-Dodga, at 23:58 11 JulThe-Artful-Dodga
- 2.9 Reply posted by Omar, today at 00:00Omar
- 2.10 Comment posted by jaycee, at 23:56 11 Juljaycee
- 2.11 Comment posted by Gordo, at 23:51 11 JulGordo
- 2.12 Comment posted by ScottleeSV, at 23:51 11 JulScottleeSV
- 2.13 Reply posted by Swoody, at 23:56 11 JulSwoody
- 2.14 Comment posted by RWC2019, at 23:51 11 JulRWC2019
- 2.15 Comment posted by amy , at 23:46 11 Julamy
- 2.16 Reply posted by Swoody, at 23:57 11 JulSwoody
- 2.17 Comment posted by frustrated, at 23:36 11 Julfrustrated
- 2.18 Comment posted by Sophie, at 23:33 11 JulSophie
- 2.19 Comment posted by Jacks Sock, at 23:28 11 JulJacks Sock
- 2.20 Comment posted by RMWOODFORD, at 23:14 11 JulRMWOODFORD
- 2.21 Comment posted by Serbinator, at 23:06 11 JulSerbinator
- 2.22 Comment posted by Drusilla Squirt, at 22:25 11 JulDrusilla Squirt
- 2.23 Comment posted by Robert Eve, at 22:20 11 JulRobert Eve
- 2.24 Comment posted by Owen, at 22:15 11 JulOwen
- 2.25 Comment posted by DP, at 22:14 11 JulDP
- 2.26 Comment posted by rugby is my game, at 22:11 11 Julrugby is my game
- 2.27 Reply posted by Serbinator, at 23:09 11 JulSerbinator
For some, the 'greatest of all time' (GOAT) discussion is frivolous and does a disservice to the achievements of each player in their own right.
Looking purely at the numbers – where head-to-head records, rankings and other titles also need to be considered – does not tell the full picture.
It is not possible to quantify their different playing styles, how they have adapted their games, their physical and mental strength, nor how they have overcome the tough moments that have peppered all of their careers.
But it does provide the framework for the debate.
"It is incredible because in all other sports you have debates. Lionel Messi or Maradona? Michael Jordan or LeBron James?" said McEnroe.
"It's rare when you get three guys who are playing at the same time and it would be hard to argue they aren't the best three players ever.
"That's not just based on the number of majors, which obviously is a big thing, but their overall bodies of work. It is just amazing.
"Finishing the year as world number one is important, but people like to talk about records – in all sports, not just tennis. There is plenty to talk about with these guys.
"If someone had said to me when I was playing that there would not only be one guy to win 20 majors but there would be three, I would have said the same thing as what I said to the umpire in 1981 – you cannot be serious!"
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Djokovic was coached by Boris Becker between 2013 and 2016, with the German helping him win six of his 20 majors.
The Serb makes no secret of the fact he is motivated by the desire to break records, saying it is a "privilege" and his "primary goal".
"Novak is a great student of the history of tennis. He knows a lot about Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg and McEnroe – and a little about my history, of course," Becker told BBC Sport. "He is aware of who has done what
"That's important for him.
"Where does he get the motivation? It's only from competing against the history of the record books.
"That is similar to Roger and to Rafa. It is a sign of greatness."
Goran Ivanisevic, the 2001 Wimbledon champion, is now part of Djokovic's coaching team and thinks the debate will be over if the Serb wins the US Open in September.
"For me, Novak is the best ever. He's writing history. He's going to do it in US Open," said the Croat.
"I strongly believe he's going to do it. He's going to win all four in one year."
Winning Roland Garros & Wimbledon 'most difficult task'
Djokovic's success means he has become the first man to achieve the French Open-Wimbledon double since Nadal did so for the second time in 2010.
Since Laver achieved the feat in 1969, only three men – Borg, Nadal and Federer – had managed to replicate it in the Open era until Djokovic.
Becker, a six-time Grand Slam champion, says successfully switching from the clay courts at Roland Garros to the grass courts at Wimbledon is "the most difficult task in tennis".
"To come from a two-month clay-court season, where you have won the final in Paris and then win the Wimbledon title is incredible," said the German, who was a three-time semi-finalist at Roland Garros.
"Especially this year, where Novak had a couple of days to recover and get his senses back, and then to play on a completely different surface.
"It is almost impossible. Borg did it three times, Nadal twice, Federer once and now Djokovic – again it speaks volumes of the quality of these players."
Djokovic – a champion on clay and grass
So what makes the transition so hard?
"You always have a certain mindset when you play a tennis match – how you want to win," said Becker.
"On clay you usually win a match if you push your opponent into an unforced error – that's the mindset. Or if you outlast, or outrun your opponent.
"On grass, it is completely the opposite. You usually win a match when you hit more winners than your opponent. You go for the ace, you go for the winner, you go for the riskier shot.
"It's a completely different mindset. Added to that it is completely different movement and completely different play.
"Matches are shorter on grass, they change quicker. It is like a western shootout on grass – who shoots the quicker tends to win.
"Most find the movement very difficult on grass, we saw earlier in the week when lots of player slipped. It wasn't the grass was more slippery, it was because there is totally different movement on grass.
"Then there is court positioning – on clay you want to be four or five feet behind the baseline, on grass you are going to slip so you need to be further forward.
"It is almost a completely different game. That's what makes Novak's achievement this year so impressive."
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Join the conversation
36 commentsShowLatestOldestHighest RatedMost RepliedH
Comment posted by Holroyd, today at 00:03Holroyd
00:03Amazing to have the three of them playing at or around the same time. They are all fantastic players who should be appreciated in their own way. Based purely on figures including time spent at No. 1, head to heads, other titles won etc, then for me ND is ahead of the other two.00D
Comment posted by Dave F, today at 00:02Dave F
00:02I had Novak down as the greatest before he won 20, though I understood the arguments for Laver. Roger had it very easy when he won the majority of his slams, although you could argue it is getting easier for Novak now. It’s just he has won all the masters series too, which no one else has done. Winning record against Roger and Rafa. Held all 4 slams at the same time, won all slams at least twice.00J
Comment posted by Jaco, today at 00:00Jaco
00:00Borg, Laver and Nadal have better records than Nole. He might overtake Nadal almost equal now, the other two, probably not!02D
Comment posted by Dissociation, at 23:59 11 JulDissociation
23:59 11 JulOf course Djokovic is the greatest. I’m just laughing, having voted him the GOAT, that he’s on 47% and Federer is on 46%.
It just shows how woke metropolitan dwelling Federer fans still have this silly notion in their heads that he’s the best.11A
Reply posted by AFCDale, today at 00:02AFCDale
00:02to Dissociation"Of course Djokovic is the greatest. I’m just laughing, having voted him the GOAT, that he’s on 47% and Federer is on 46%. It just shows how woke metropolitan dwelling Federer fans still have this silly notion in their heads that he’s the best."AFCDale replied: Ugh…..
Some just prefer attacking tennis, just like most fans in every sport prefer attackers to defenders.00T
Comment posted by The-Artful-Dodga, at 23:58 11 JulThe-Artful-Dodga
23:58 11 JulWhen you’ve got a bigoted v
lesbian at the who cares for little a with 24 titles , who cares? Censor me all you lje it’s true!22O
Reply posted by Omar, today at 00:00Omar
00:00to The-Artful-Dodga"When you’ve got a bigoted vlesbian at the who cares for little a with 24 titles , who cares? Censor me all you lje it’s true!"Omar replied: Could we have that post translated to English, please00J
Comment posted by jaycee, at 23:56 11 Juljaycee
23:56 11 JulWho cares? When did everyone start talking about goats anyway.
Ps. Most slams does not equal best player… neither does style or grace. Novak, Roger and Rafa are pretty damn awesome.10G
Comment posted by Gordo, at 23:51 11 JulGordo
23:51 11 JulWhat a stupid idea- give him a wooden racket and see how he gets on- can’t compare players from different eras in any sport10S
Comment posted by ScottleeSV, at 23:51 11 JulScottleeSV
23:51 11 JulDjokovic might win the most slams but his style is mind numbingly boring. He plays like an android.
Federer will always be the most popular and inspirational. Some of the play he produced in his heyday was incredible.
Reply posted by Swoody, at 23:56 11 JulSwoody
23:56 11 Julto ScottleeSV"Djokovic might win the most slams but his style is mind numbingly boring. He plays like an android. Federer will always be the most popular and inspirational. Some of the play he produced in his heyday was incredible."Swoody replied: Obviously clueless about tennis !!33More replies (2)downR
Comment posted by RWC2019, at 23:51 11 JulRWC2019
23:51 11 JulSmacking balls into line judges and dancing topless in nightclubs promoting anti-vax theories……
Professionally great……personally a T***t.84A
Comment posted by amy , at 23:46 11 Julamy
23:46 11 JulHe is the GOAT due to the fact he has achieved all this in the era of Nadal and Federer confirms it to me when Federer was dominating was one of the weakest eras in men’s tennis, If not for elbow injury a few seasons back I think Djokovic would have been past 20 easily Federer would never have won those 3 slams from 2017-2018.56S
Reply posted by Swoody, at 23:57 11 JulSwoody
23:57 11 Julto amy "He is the GOAT due to the fact he has achieved all this in the era of Nadal and Federer confirms it to me when Federer was dominating was one of the weakest eras in men’s tennis, If not for elbow injury a few seasons back I think Djokovic would have been past 20 easily Federer would never have won those 3 slams from 2017-2018."Swoody replied: 100% correct10More replies (1)downF
Comment posted by frustrated, at 23:36 11 Julfrustrated
23:36 11 JulI adore Novak, love his style of play and I agree with his views on a great many things. The GOAT debate adds to the excitement of the slams, no doubt in my mind that Novak now holds that title.74S
Comment posted by Sophie, at 23:33 11 JulSophie
23:33 11 JulMost will never regard Djokovic as the GOAT however many titles he gets. He cannot compare with the peerless Federer in grace, style, charm or longevity.512J
Comment posted by Jacks Sock, at 23:28 11 JulJacks Sock
23:28 11 JulNo doubt he will exceed everyone and go down in history as the GOAT but I find the GOAT debate boring and it sucks the life out of the enjoyment of the game. Brilliant player but I can’t stand him. I guess it’s a matter of taste!53R
Comment posted by RMWOODFORD, at 23:14 11 JulRMWOODFORD
23:14 11 Jul’Only Margaret Court, Serena Williams and Steffi Graf have more’
They have as many mens grand slam titles as me. How is it comparable. I’ll tell you, it isn’t.86S
Comment posted by Serbinator, at 23:06 11 JulSerbinator
23:06 11 JulNovak is the best ever – the only reason he is not recognized as such has nothing to do with tennis and you all know it!134D
Comment posted by Drusilla Squirt, at 22:25 11 JulDrusilla Squirt
22:25 11 JulI think technically Novak IS the GOAT.106R
Comment posted by Robert Eve, at 22:20 11 JulRobert Eve
22:20 11 JulJimmy Connors!!23O
Comment posted by Owen, at 22:15 11 JulOwen
22:15 11 JulI have always supported Rog or Rafa over Novac, but when he is at his best, i have to admit that i have never seen a more technically perfect tennis player in the history of the sport. Numbers don’t mean you are the greatest. Djokovic’s game makes him the greatest.162D
Comment posted by DP, at 22:14 11 JulDP
22:14 11 JulLeaving aside the GOAT, I still find it astonishing what the big 3 have achieved and at the same time. Along with Murray, Del Potro, Wawrinka this last 10 years or so has been a golden era for mens tennis51R
Comment posted by rugby is my game, at 22:11 11 Julrugby is my game
22:11 11 JulFederer GOAT but Rafa & Novak very close.111S
Reply posted by Serbinator, at 23:09 11 JulSerbinator
23:09 11 Julto rugby is my game"Federer GOAT but Rafa & Novak very close."Serbinator replied: Don’t quit rugby, tennis is definitely not your thing33More commentsBack to topunknown