Djokovic will wear them all down

If Novak Djokovic is the greatest player ever, it’s because he has the greatest skill: the ability to wear down and outlast the opponent.

He is 35-10 in 5-set matches, and many of them were against his biggest rivals. 

Other than Robin Soderling in 2009, no other player has been able to wear out Nadal at Roland Garros. 

In the French Open semi-final, Djokovic and Rafa Nadal waged war like two giant trees chopping each other down swing by swing. Novak’s dropshots forced Rafa out of his rhythm deep behind the baseline. Eventually, Novak’s all-court game took the steam out of Rafa, which Rafa normally does to opponents. 

Earlier in the tournament, Djokovic dropped the first two sets to Lorenzo Musetti. But he didn’t give up, and he trounced the Italian teenager. Djokovic noted how he feels he can eventually wear down younger players. 

That’s what he did to Stefanos Tsitsipas, who stormed ahead 7-6, 6-2 in the final. Djokovic kept his cool. Though he looked flat and passive early, he was keeping his fire in reserve. He waited for Stef’s level to come back to earth, and then Novak raised his level. 

Late in the fifth set, Novak at age 34 seemed more fresh than the 22-year old Tsitsipas. He won huge points with his deft backhand dropshot down the line, an incredibly difficult shot under pressure. 

On a grander scale, Djokovic is doing the same to Federer and Nadal in the race for the most career slams. After winning his 19th slam, he can tie Roger and Rafa at 20 during The Championships at Wimbledon in July, where he’s the defending champion. 

Thanks to his devotion to stretching and flexibility, Djokovic appears younger and healthier than Roger and Rafa. He can wear them down to the point where they can’t beat him on any surface. 

In the end, it all comes down to Novak’s ability to wear you down. 

–words and photos copyright Christopher Johnson all rights reserved