Tennis legend John McEnroe is impressed at how Novak Djokovic has bounced back from the fourth round default at the US Open and believes that when all is said and done, the Serb may finish ahead of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the greatest of all time.
“He comes out and says that he wants to make history and be the best of the best, which is putting even more expectation on yourself but he’s embraced that,” the Eurosport analyst was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
“He’s a deep thinker, he’s continually trying to work on his game. He’s been able to break himself into the two all-time greatest players and be part of that mix where you decide maybe Novak will be the greatest.
“The fact that people can even say that with Roger and Rafa around shows you how amazing a player he is. He’s always been in the shadow in a way, trying to break into that mix.
“I respect that, I had that a little myself – Novak is a way better player than I was but I had the same thing with (Jimmy) Connors and (Bjorn) Borg and trying to get that respect and be thought of in the same way. He’s been able to do that, so that shows you a lot about his character.”
World No 1 Djokovic missed out on a chance to close in on his rivals – Federer holds the record with 20 majors, while Nadal is at 19 currently — as he was defaulted from the US Open for accidentally hitting a lineswoman in the throat with a ball.
But the 17-time champion has another chance at the French Open. He opened the bid for his 18th Grand Slam title at Roland Garros with a 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 win over Swedish youngster Mikael Ymer on Tuesday.
“I rate Novak’s chances as highly as high as Rafa’s at the French Open,” McEnroe, 61, said.
“I think Rafa is a player who likes to get some matches in under his belt and gets confidence from that so just because there’s been so little tennis, and then him choosing not to come to New York, obviously he has only played a couple of matches so that makes it more unpredictable,” added the seven-time singles Grand Slam champion.
“Presumably he would be less confident but he’s proven over and over in best of five sets at the French Open, that’s the toughest task of any player to beat him there so he’s still got that going for him.
“I think (Dominic) Thiem could stay with him, I think the top guys could stay with him, Novak I think and Thiem.
“Obviously his US Open disqualification was an accident, it was a catastrophe for him (Novak)…I’m surprised that it doesn’t seem to have affected him that much and that shows a lot of strength of character.”