Djokovic’s greatness will be recognized eventually, says Medvedev

Djokovic’s greatness will be recognised eventually, says Medvedev
Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Russia's Daniil Medvedev during their men's single final tennis match on the last day of the ATP Paris Masters at The AccorHotels Arena in Paris on November 7, 2021. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

The tide is turning in tennis legend Novak Djokovic’s favor in terms of gaining the respect he deserves from sports fans, but he may have to wait years after retirement to be fully appreciated, according to Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev was speaking after Djokovic came back from a set down to beat him 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the final in Paris on Sunday for a record-breaking 37th Masters 1000 title.
This came just a day after the 34-year-old Serbian won his semi-final, ensuring himself of yet another milestone — season-ending world number one for the seventh time.

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In doing so, he effectively ended Medvedev’s slim chances of dethroning him, just two months after the Russian dashed Djokovic’s hopes of completing a Grand Slam sweep in the US Open final.

Djokovic has spoken of the love he felt from the US Open crowd that day, which has not always been the case elsewhere — in this year’s Wimbledon final, he was riled on several occasions by spectators siding with opponent Matteo Berrettini.
For many years, he was regarded as the odd man out among the three great rivals, each of whom had won 20 Grand Slams.
Although Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are well-liked, the intense, deep-thinking Serbian elicits lukewarm reactions.

Medvedev, on the other hand, believes the man he refers to as “his friend” will eventually be recognized for his achievements.
“I have the impression that people are beginning to respect what he has done in tennis,” Medvedev said.
“Because, well, he keeps breaking records.”
“I feel like, unless they’re true haters, which aren’t true fans, people start to see what he’s done and realize he’s capable of doing more.”

‘Break all the records’

Medvedev believes that understanding just how great a player Djokovic is will take time.

“I think maybe ten years after he retires because there will be people who start watching tennis who haven’t seen him play,” Medvedev said.

“Like me, I didn’t see (Pete) Sampras play because I was too young, but I heard he was amazing — it’ll be the same.”

“There will be new people coming to tennis who will simply read what the results were on Wikipedia.”

“Who was the World No. 1 for the most weeks, for the most times in the end, and they’ll see Novak everywhere.”

“That’s when people will start to realize, Okay, that’s amazing what he’s done.”

When asked how he rates his accomplishments, Djokovic has a standard response.

“Of course, it means everything to me when I surpass one of the past champions, especially someone I looked up to when I was a kid like Pete Sampras (prior to Saturday, he was tied with the American on six for finishing season-ending world number one),” Djokovic said.

“It’s a strange sensation.” But, in general, it’s difficult for me to fully reflect on what was accomplished.

“I can’t really devote myself to thinking about historic achievements, not just this week, but in general in my career.” Djokovic, on the other hand, makes no secret of his desire to continue setting new benchmarks.

“It is an objective, yes,” he said, “to prove that I can break all the records.” “I’m very motivated to keep going.”

In his triumphant moment, he encouraged ‘The Octopus,’ as Medvedev is known for his ability to retrieve balls from impossible positions.

“He’s a complete, all-around player,” Djokovic said.

“He’s closing in on the World No. 1 spot.” I’m sure he’ll get it eventually, and when he does, it’ll be well deserved.

“He’s the next generation of players, challenging the three of us old guys.”

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