Former world number one Yevgeny Kafelnikov has hailed Novak Djokovic as he prepares to take a major tennis record.
Djokovic is guaranteed to surpass Roger Federer for the most weeks (310) spent as world number one on March 8 following Rafael Nadal’s defeat in the Australian Open quarterfinals.
Kafelnikov, though, hopes the tennis world truly appreciates just how significant an achievement it is.
“Every athlete is driven by the idea of breaking records,” Kafelnikov told Tennis Majors.
“When we start our careers, we dream about getting to the number one spot even for one week, never mind being there for 300+ weeks, so of course it is significant.
“In Novak’s mind there were two great goals – historic No 1 and most Grand Slam titles.
“He is not too far behind and I feel he may have the best chance of all the three guys to end up with more Slams.
“That is the legacy he wants to leave behind, those two achievements.”
Djokovic can start making a dent in Nadal’s Grand Slam total by winning the Australian Open, which he now looks well-positioned to do.
It has been a tough journey for the Serbian so far, with him carrying an abdominal injury, but Kafelnikov is still confident he will find a way to win.
“Look, there is a great quote from our good friend Stefan Edberg who said: “You cannot expect to play seven ideal, wonderful matches to win a Grand Slam title,”” Kafelnikov said.
“You are going to play maybe one or two great matches in the tournament and the thing with Novak is that his average level of play is so high that it cannot drop below a certain point; that level is enough for him to beat most of his opponents and that makes him different compared to others.
“Even if Novak has not played three or four great matches up until now, I am sure he will be at his best from this point onwards.
“He is a predator; when he smells something big, he wants to take it.
“He wants to be the one with most Grand Slam titles and the closer he gets to the title, the better he is going to play.”
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