Skip to main content

COMMENT: Novak Djokovic has made extraordinary the expectation, and it is truly special

COMMENT: Novak Djokovic has reached a level where special has become standard, but we should never allow ourselves to fail to appreciate it.
Novak Djokovic reacts after Wimbledon win over Jannik Sinner

Novak Djokovic has reached a level where special has become standard, but we should never allow ourselves to fail to appreciate it.

When it comes to certainties in tennis, there are actually relatively few. That is part of what makes it such a brilliant sport. Players can’t even be sure of what time they are going onto court for the most part, or how long they’ll be there, and that is before we get into the matches themselves.

There are some things upon which we can rely, though. We know, for example, that Rafael Nadal will not serve until he has pinned the long hair he used to have behind his ears. We know that, sooner or later, Nick Kyrgios is going to start an argument with someone. We know that John Isner is going to out-ace his opponent.

We also know that, no matter how the scoreboard looks or how the match feels, Novak Djokovic is never beaten until the final point is done.

If there was anyone who doubted that, then Djokovic gave us all a reminder against Jannik Sinner at Wimbledon. Sinner found himself two sets up on the 20-time Major winner on Centre Court and at that point the brilliant young Italian was producing some seriously elite tennis.

Djokovic was clearly not at his best in those first two sets, but we mustn’t take anything from Sinner’s performance either. He was connecting with his shots and finding the corners of the court. He did everything right.

And yet, at no point did it feel like Djokovic was in serious trouble. I’m sure it didn’t feel that way to his legion of fans who live and breathe every point with the Serbian, but from our point of view as a neutral, there was never a sense that Djokovic was on his way out. In fact, remarkably, he still felt like the favourite.

It wasn’t just us who felt that way either. In fact, at the start of the third set when Sinner held his commanding lead, the in-play sports betting markets still showed Djokovic as even money to win it.

RELATED: Novak Djokovic Wimbledon winning streak: Where does it stand in the all-time list?

Let us not fall into the trap of thinking Djokovic was up against some no-mark no-hoper here and that he was beating himself either. Jannik Sinner is one of the top young talents in the world and he dominated the other, Carlos Alcaraz, in the previous round.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

He is also the tenth seed and next week he will be a top ten player again. Sinner is quality, was in some serious form, playing against a Novak Djokovic who was struggling to find his game – and yet no bookmakers were willing to declare him more likely to lose from two sets down than he was to come back and win it.

The result has been noted by the wider tennis media, of course. Quite rightly too. However, the tragedy is that it is not something that will truly get the credit it deserves.

Novak Djokovic Jannik Sinner celebration Wimbledon

I am not actually sure we can blame the media for that, though. There is only one person responsible for making what Novak Djokovic did on Centre Court against Jannik Sinner feel unremarkable, and that is Djokovic himself.

After all, this is just what Djokovic does, right? It’s just Novak Djokovic doing Novak Djokovic things. We’ve seen it all before, haven't we? We saw it last year at the French Open against Lorenzo Musetti, for one. We have even seen him do it relatively recently in a Grand Slam final, again at Roland Garros.

Just in terms of Wimbledon, we saw Djokovic two match points down against the undeniably great Roger Federer in the final – only for him to find something within himself that others do not possess and craft a way to win it.

In many ways it is a shame that the tennis world has become desensitised to Novak Djokovic’s greatness. In many other, perhaps more important ways, it is the most meaningful testament to that greatness.

Because, when extraordinary becomes the expectation, when perfect becomes the predicted, and when special becomes the standard to such an extent that sheer familiarity dulls our senses to it, we know we are talking about a level of greatness that comes along very rarely indeed – and we should always make the time to appreciate it.

Please follow Tennisbuzz on Twitter and Instagram, and you can like us on Facebook by clicking here.

For more exclusive content from Tennisbuzz, including news, features, trivia, promotions and more, please be sure to sign up for our newsletter below or via our home page.

Why not test your tennis knowledge by tackling one of our fiendish quizzes too?