Novak Djokovic speaks following his US Open defeat against Daniil Medvedev.
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Novak Djokovic has been tipped to become as adored as his long-time rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. While the world No 1 is respected as one of the greatest players in the game, he has often not had the crowds on his side at events and has not had the level of admiration that Federer and Nadal experienced. However, one of Djokovic’s former coaches now believes the Serb will be “loved” as he reaches the latter years of his career.
Djokovic has been the most successful player of the trio in recent years, catching up to Federer and Nadal by reaching 20 Grand Slams this year, having won the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
However, the world No 1 has not experienced the same level of love and admiration from crowds as his Big Three counterparts.
Some believe it is a matter of who got there first, with Federer and Nadal having their career breakthroughs shortly before Djokovic arrived on the scene, as the Serb came from behind to catch up to the two men originally seen as the ‘GOATs’.
Although the Serb has not always received a warm reception, one of his former coaches now believes Djokovic will get the love and support he has arguably always deserved, as he reaches the final few years of his career.
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Djokovic, now 34, has been the only member of the Big Three on tour in recent months.
Federer underwent two knee surgeries in 2020, shutting down his season after the Australian Open and ended his 2021 season after playing just five tournaments, having his third surgery in 18 months.
Meanwhile, Nadal played just two matches at the ATP 500 in Washington after aggravating a left foot injury during his semi-final loss to Djokovic at Roland Garros, and joined his Swiss rival in ending his season early to recover.
It left Djokovic as the only Big Three player competing in the season-ending Grand Slam in New York last month, and the top seed experienced one of the most supportive crowds of his career in the US Open final.
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Now, six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker – who coached Djokovic for several years – believes his former protégé will join Federer and Nadal in receiving admiration from crowds, after he received an ovation despite losing the US Open final to Daniil Medvedev last month.
“The incredible ovation he received during the final was very good for him,” the former world No 1 said. “That ovation should make it very clear that Novak is on the way to being loved in the final stretch of his career.
“Respect for his incredible performances has always been there, but now people attach themselves with him emotionally.”
Becker also spoke of the disappointment Djokovic would have felt after missing out on the Calendar Grand Slam.
The 34-year-old would’ve been the first man in 52 years to win all four Majors in a single year, and the first man in history to win a record 21st Grand Slam singles title, but fell at the final hurdle as he lost to Medvedev in the US Open championship match.
He has not played since, but will be making a return at next week’s Paris Masters 1000, before ending his season with the ATP Finals and Davis Cup.
“Novak is still digesting the tremendous opportunity he could not take advantage of in the last US Open,” his former coach added.
“It became a major emotional problem for him, things did not go as expected.
“I hope he plays again soon. I think he will see everything more clearly again once he gets back into dynamics, plays tournaments and wins matches again.”
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