by Bob Stockton
Following a magnificent eighth career triumph at the Australian Open, the love affair Novak Djokovic has with the blue courts in Melbourne continues. No player in either the amateur or open eras has enjoyed more success in this traditional first Grand Slam tournament of the calendar year, which bodes well for what could be a spectacular 2020 for the Serbian tennis star.
With his victory against Dominic Thiem at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, the 32-year-old has now won 17 Grand Slam titles during his illustrious career. Spanish tennis icon Rafael Nadal is just two ahead with 19 career Grand Slam titles, while Swiss sensation Roger Federer remains the all-time leader and three ahead with 20 Grand Slams. Remarkably, none of them have won the Calendar Grand Slam of all four major tournaments in one year.
During what has been a golden age of talent in the modern tennis era over the last couple of decades, all three of these spectacular players have come very close. Federer won three of the four major tournaments in 2004, 2006 and 2007, Nadal scored his trio of majors in 2010, while Djokovic has achieved a triple of majors twice, in 2011 and 2015.
Given there have been three such phenomenally talented players on the elite tennis scene at the same time, winning the Calendar Grand Slam is incredibly difficult. Especially considering that one of this trio of superstars has denied another the opportunity on a number of occasions. It’s also why Don Budge in 1938, then Rod Laver twice in 1962 and 1969, remain the only players to have won all four major tournaments in one year.
That said, despite the fact that Nadal is outright -110 favorite for the upcoming French Open, having dominated the tournament in Paris with 12 triumphs in the last 15 editions, Djokovic will still fancy his chances at +300 odds as he seeks to produce a monumental year of tennis. If he can triumph at Roland-Garros in May, Djokovic will then be looking ahead to continued success at Wimbledon in June, followed by the US Open in August.
However, there’s one elusive accolade that no men’s tennis player has ever achieved, which only legendary German player Steffi Graf managed to achieve in the women’s game. This was the remarkable feat of winning all four Grand Slam titles, plus an Olympic Gold medal at the 1988 Summer Games in South Korea. This established what came to be known as an unprecedented Calendar Golden Slam.
Of the trio of current greats in the men’s game right now, with Federer in his twilight and Nadal having struggled with injuries over the last few years, Djokovic is the youngest and arguably most likely male player who could yet achieve the Golden Slam. Having made such a fine start to this year and with the Tokyo Olympics this year, the Serbian will no doubt be hoping he’s the one who can accomplish the Calendar Golden Slam dream in men’s tennis.