Two words stood out from Novak Djokovic’s on-court speech. He spoke, in front of a capacity crowd on Centre Court at Wimbledon, at the end of a final, as runner-up for only the second time in nine occasions.
“Move on,” he said.
Headlines cried that a new era in men’s tennis had begun. The Era of Carlos Alcaraz. Indeed, a new generation may have announced itself onto the circuit. But in those two words, Djokovic quashed all thoughts that his time had ended.
It’s folly to assume that one victory over the longest reigning world No 1 in men’s tennis would mean the end of his dominance. He’s 36 now, and lost a tight, five-set match against a player 16 years his junior. He’s the reigning Australian Open and French Open
champion. And come the US Open in August, he’s bound to be a favourite there as well.
For two decades now, men’s tennis had been dominated by three big figures – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic. In the 80 Grand Slams played starting from when Federer won Wimbledon in 2003, the Big 3 have won 65. Djokovic has 23 – the most for any men’s player, and just one short of Margaret Court’s all-time record.
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A few years back, the breakthrough of top 10 stars like Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and many more had triggered the thought the ‘Next Gen’ was here to take over the Grand Slam dominance. They knocked on the door, but the Big 3 wouldn’t budge.
Another generation of players has emerged, in 20-year-olds Alcaraz and Holger Rune, and 21-year-old Jannik Sinner. Alcaraz, the current No 1 has proven to be the one breaking a path none before could manage consistently. He’s now a two-time Grand Slam champion.
Djokovic has proven oh-so many times in his career that he can be a sponge. A loss for him only means that he will learn from the mistakes that were made and comeback stronger. And for a man who is still playing, and winning, at the highest level of the sport, it will not be surprising if he bounces back from this win and adds more titles to his already impressive tally.
He is not done yet.