Djokovic Eclipses Sampras, But Why Isn't He Loved Like Nadal And Federer?

The Serb ends the year as world number one for the seventh time
17:55, 08 Nov 2021

Novak Djokovic just can’t stop breaking records as he looks to eclipse the fellow greats of this era Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. He claimed a record sixth Paris Masters title by defeating world number two Daniil Medvedev 4-6 6-3 6-3 on Sunday, which earned him his 37th Masters 1000 crown, and moved him ahead of Spaniard Nadal.

Not only that, but his performance in the French capital confirmed that he was to end the year as world number one for a record seventh year, surpassing the great Pete Sampras, truly cementing him as one of the greatest sportsmen of all time. The Serbian star has always been shadowed by the charismatic personalities of Nadal and particularly Federer and has always been up against it to win the love and admiration of supporters. He’s had his fair share of low moments because of this, but his achievements on the court speak for themselves and fans need to realise the sheer greatness in front of their eyes. 

The 34-year-old said he was “just proud and extremely happy” to beat Sampras’ record and  this also means that he has ended the year as number one twice more than both Nadal and Federer (five apiece).

“Obviously that was one of the biggest goals, and it’s always one of the biggest goals, to try to be number one and end the season as number one,” he added.

“To do it for the record seventh time and surpass my childhood idol and role model Pete is incredible. Very grateful, very blessed to be in this position.”

The Serb’s three-set victory over Russian Medvedev allowed Djokovic to avenge his US Open final defeat in September which denied him his record-breaking 21st Grand Slam singles title. The match marked the first time since 2015 and before that 1990, that the top two players in the ATP rankings contested in the final. The world number two believes that in time all those coming into tennis as well as those who are not particularly fond of the Serbian, his “real haters” will come to realise just how much of a legacy he will leave behind in the sport.

He said: “Ten years after he retires, there are going to be people who will start watching tennis just like me. I didn’t see Sampras play, I was too young but I heard he was amazing – it’s going to be the same [with Djokovic].”

“There are going to be new people coming to tennis who are just going to read in Wikipedia or whatever, what were the results, who was the world No 1 for most weeks, for most times.

“In the end they are going to see Novak everywhere. That’s when people are going to start to understand [and say], ‘OK, that’s amazing what he has done’.”

If the likes of Nadal and Federer had achieved as much as their junior Djokovic, fans would be quick to praise them, and it is understandable for the Serbian to sometimes lose his temper with crowds who seem actively out to get him. Tennis stars are not like football teams where you pledge your allegiance from birth ‘til death, you are allowed to appreciate and enjoy any of the brilliance on show by tennis’ elite while still having your preference. There is no more for Djokovic to do on the court to try and win favour among the fans and maybe it will take his retirement for most supporters to appreciate his excellence.

Next up for the Paris Masters champion is the ATP Finals in Turin where he will be heading in as the favourite. But there is still uncertainty surrounding his participation at January’s Australian Open, where he will be looking to retain his title and finally grasp that 21st Grand Slam title. It’s time for people to start taking note of how much the Serbian has contributed to the sport.

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