Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after defeating Daniil Medvedev of Russia during their Men's Singles final of the 2023 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2023 in New York. The win took Djokovic’s grand slam tally to 24 titles. Image Credit: AFP

The US Open is grand slam number 24 for Novak Djokovic. Sunday’s win at Flushing Meadows makes the Serbian the most successful player in history — a feat he shares with Margaret Court of Australia. At 36, the win over Daniil Medvedev also makes him the oldest grand slam winner in Open era.

The greatest tennis player in history is no longer a debate. The question is: How long will the veteran continue to win majors? This year, Djokovic claimed three of the four grand slams; it’s the third time he’s done it. He’s still the World No.1.

Djokovic continues to lord over tennis, so why will he retire? I’m sure the thought of retirement never even crossed his mind. The Serbian looks good for at least another half a dozen majors; most players aspire to win one.

Djokovic continues to maintain a high level of fitness. The march of time hasn’t dimmed his tennis skills and court craft. His intensity hasn’t flagged a bit. He remains eager to win titles.

With a bushelful of trophies and a bagful of records, Djokovic keeps chasing more success. How does he motivate himself? During a press conference ahead of the 2023 Dubai Duty Free tennis, Djokovic said: “I think in the core of my motivation, it’s just a mentality of wanting always to be better than I was yesterday. So, on a daily basis or kind of a short-term goal is to always try to improve every aspect of the game because I always believe that there is something to work on.”

His incessant efforts at improvements have paid off. At a time when younger players are jostling for a slice of the tennis pie, Djokovic continues to reign over tennis. Much as it’s a tribute to the Serbian’s fitness and skills, it’s also a poor reflection on the young brigade. Talent youth have aplenty but lack Djokovic’s mental fortitude and resilience. That comes with experience, which the Serbian has in abundance.

Djokovic is fully aware of the youngsters trying to knock him off the tennis pedestal. Ever since Roger Federer retired and Rafael Nadal took a sabbatical to heal his body, there hasn’t been any real competition. Djokovic had been winning grand slams when the Swiss and the Spaniard raked in 42 majors between them.

Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev have won grand slams, but they never really threatened Djokovic’s dominance. In Dubai, Djokovic said: “The new generation is coming, but I’m not afraid.” He singled out Carlos Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas as possible threats.

He was right about Alcaraz. At Wimbledon, when the Spaniard took down Djokovic in a five-setter, it looked as if the torch had been passed. The 20-year-old claimed the No. 1 spot with his second grand slam title.

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Is Alcaraz the new leader of the tennis pack? Has the Djokovic era finally come to an end? All those questions were answered at the ATP Cincinnati Masters, where the Serbian tamed Alcaraz in a tight three-setter. That set the scene for an intriguing US Open. But Medvedev ruined a mouthwatering rematch by ousting the Spaniard in the semifinals, and Djokovic exacted revenge over the Russian for the 2021 final loss.

So we are back to the same question: When will King Djokovic’s reign end? Not so soon. The Belgrade-born star’s game continues to improve. On Sunday, his serving and volleying have been top-notch, winning many crucial points at the net. Which means Djokovic is not going anywhere.

When the Australian Open rolls around in January, Djokovic will be the one to beat. Will it be grand slam number 25 at Melbourne? Only a fool will bet against that!