It took Novak Djokovic four attempts to succeed at the French Open. And in doing so he is the first person since Rod Laver in 1969 to have all the four Grand Slam singles titles in his bag at a single point in time, though with a difference. Laver had achieved the feat in a calendar year twice, in 1969 and 1962, though 1962 was before the Open era in tennis. But more than making history, Djokovic is finally at peace, having conquered a Major on the only surface that had denied him the title thus far. He had come so close once earlier too —in 2012 — when the situation was similar. The reigning Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open champion was halted by the king of clay, Rafael Nadal, in four sets. On Sunday evening, he said to himself ‘no more’ after losing the first set 3-6 to Andy Murray. Three hours later and a Guga-style heart on the court, Djokovic joined the league of greats such as Laver and Don Budge in 1938.
Purists would argue Djokovic didn’t have to face Roger Federer or Nadal on his route to victory in the French Open but that doesn’t take anything away from what he’s accomplished so far. Devotion to getting stronger, tweaking his serves, and believing in gluten-free diets and striving to excel have helped him reach this point. The statistics are staggering — winning four consecutive Majors , fourth on the all-time Majors list at 12 Slams, making three consecutive finals at all Majors from the Australian Open in 2011 to Roland Garros in 2016, the only player with six Australian Opens and 29 Masters titles, the highest number of points accrued as world No 1 (16950), etc. He had a feeling about this year’s Roland Garros, and he kept saying it throughout the fortnight. At the moment there’s simply no doubt about who is the force to reckon with in men’s tennis. The Serb comes and conquers with very few glitches. After all, it’s difficult to argue with his belief that “everything is achievable in life”.