In this week’s Monday Mailbag we broach the murky question of ‘asterisk' Grand Slams, and whether or not Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have won them this year.
Back at the start of the year when Rafael Nadal won the Australian Open, the term ‘asterisk year’ was something that was thrown around a lot due to the absence of Novak Djokovic.
The claim behind it was the fact Djokovic was not in the competition, it cheapened the achievement of winning it to such a degree that it needed to be noted.
By the same logic, then, does the absence of Roger Federer and the injury to Rafael Nadal put an ‘asterisk’ next to Novak Djokovic’s name in this year’s Wimbledon?
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Editor’s reply: That’s definitely an interesting question, and it’s one that perhaps we are not ideally positioned to answer. The reason for that is simple – we don’t believe in ‘asterisk' Slams at all.
Tennis is probably the toughest sport there is. You’re out there by yourself, you don’t know how long you’ll be playing, and it is incredibly taxing both physically and mentally. What we are saying is that if you win a Slam, however you do it and against whoever is in the draw, it’s a huge achievement and it’s just plain cruel to try to diminish it.
Yes, Novak Djokovic would have been the favourite to win the Australian Open this year. That much is obvious. That doesn’t mean that Rafael Nadal still wouldn’t have, though. After all, Nadal was the favourite to win the 2021 French Open, and even the most ardent of Djokovic fan would admit it, but he didn’t.
Djokovic would probably tell you himself that Andy Murray, at his peak, was a truly incredible grass-courter, but we don’t make all those Wimbledons he missed ‘asterisk’ years, and rightly so.
So, no, we don’t believe Djokovic’s 2022 Wimbledon win should come with an asterisk, but we don’t believe Rafael Nadal’s 2022 Australian Open win should either. If you win a Grand Slam, you deserve all the credit in the world for it as far as we’re concerned.
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