Djokovic wants 20th Slam and more

Novak Djokovic signing an expectant mother's belly while parading his Australian Open trophy at Melbourne's Brighton Beach.
Novak Djokovic signing an expectant mother's belly while parading his Australian Open trophy at Melbourne's Brighton Beach.PHOTO: REUTERS

MELBOURNE • Not content with challenging Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the men's Grand Slams record, Novak Djokovic has Serena Williams and Margaret Court in his sights after claiming a ninth Australian Open title.

The world No. 1's bold statement followed Sunday's final, when he ended a turbulent tournament marred by a muscle injury and media attacks by humbling the in-form Daniil Medvedev.

His 18th Major placed him closer to the men's record of 20 wins, jointly held by Nadal and Federer. But he also raised the prospect of his bigger goal of reaching the 23 held by Williams, and the 24 won by Court straddling the amateur and Open era.

"Getting closer to maybe Roger's, Rafa's record, Serena, Margaret," said Djokovic, when asked about his goals and schedule for this year.

"They made a tremendous mark in our sport. I think about winning more Slams and breaking records, of course."

His 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 win over the 25-year-old Medvedev, who was on a 20-match winning streak, was a sobering moment for the younger players hoping to dislodge the "Big Three".

"We're talking about some cyborgs of tennis, in a good way. They're just unbelievable," said Medvedev about the world No. 1 Serb, Nadal and Federer.

Djokovic warned Medvedev and Co that they may have to wait longer for a breakthrough.

"Roger and Rafa inspire me," he added. "I think as long as they go, I'll go... We don't want to hand it to them and we don't want to allow them to win Slams.

"Whether you communicate that message or not, we are definitely sending that vibe out there."

Djokovic's coach Goran Ivanisevic said his charge will finish his career with more Grand Slams than Federer while seven-time Slam winner Mats Wilander backed Naomi Osaka to win at least 10 Major titles following her Australian Open victory on Saturday.

Osaka has been downplaying expectations. But having stamped her authority on hardcourts by winning both the Australian and US Opens more than once, the Japanese star feels she is now better equipped to succeed on other surfaces.

The 23-year-old has never made it beyond the third round at Roland Garros or Wimbledon. Asked if she was now more confident of success on clay and grass, the four-time Major champion said: "Yes, I think so. I have more of an understanding of what I'm supposed to do.

"Before I would just head into a match sort of unaware of different patterns and things like that. But now I talk to (coach) Wim (Fissette) a bit more on strategy."

Carrying her hardcourt success to the French Open and Wimbledon is her "biggest goal" now.

"I just really want to get comfortable on the other surfaces," said the world No. 2, who had denied Williams her 24th Grand Slam title after beating the American in the semi-finals.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2021, with the headline 'Djokovic wants 20th Slam and more'. Subscribe