The first decade of the new millennium witnessed several changes in Men’s Tennis. The legendary Pete Sampras bid adieu to the sport at the age of just 30 in 2002, his great rival Andre Agassi followed suit in 2006, and two young men, albeit with totally different skill sets emerged as the new faces of Men’s tennis.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal had established a duopoly in Men’s tennis between 2004 and 2009, and such was their dominance in this period that the others were reduced to total irrelevance.
Between 2004 and 2009, Federer and Nadal won a staggering 20 out of the 24 Grand Slam titles. And, the questions on the minds of everyone was, could anyone challenge this hegemony of these two gladiators in the coming decade?
Dawn of Era of Novak Djokovic
By the time the next decade(2010s) dawned, Novak Djokovic was already six years into his tennis career. But, he had managed to win just a solitary Grand Slam title. But then, in the next decade, the Serbian legend would go on to create history, winning more Grand Slams in a single decade than any mortal man in the history of the game.
In fact, the arrival of a new star in the horizon began in the year 2011. Djokovic won 3 Grand Slam titles in that year. He beat Federer in the semifinals of the Australian Open, and also beat Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon Final and the US Open Final in the same year.
From then on, Djokovic rose and owned the decade between 2010 and 2019. The Serbian maestro went on to win as many as 15 Grand Slam titles in that decade, emerging as the monarch of all that he surveyed.
He won as many as 6 Australian Open titles in that decade, won 5 Wimbledon titles, 3 US Open titles and a French Open title. Also, another startling fact here is, the great Roger Federer has not beat Djokovic in even a single Grand Slam Final in the whole of the previous decade, despite facing off with Djokovic in as many as 4 summit clashes during the course of the decade.
Djokovic: Wizard of Oz
Djokovic is a man who never gives up. He fights it out, gives it his all and just does not quit. His game is based on resilience, his return of the serve is second to none in the game today, and he is at the peak of his powers. He also completed the much sought after ‘Career Slam’ when he won the French Open title in the year 2016.
Now, the game belongs to the ‘Big Three’ with Djokovic as the leading player, closely followed by Federer and Nadal. He is the ‘Wizard of Oz’ and the Australian Open has become his forte.Wimbledon used to be Federer’s den, but by winning more Wimbledon titles than Federer himself in the last decade, Djokovic has established a stranglehold on the hallowed surface of grass too.
He has also won the US Open title 3 times in the last decade, proving that he is one of the favourites there too. Djokovic’s rise as a force that cannot be tamed easily has been the biggest story of the last decade, and he is leading the march forward into the coming decade as well. And, the previous decade clearly belonged to Djokovic, as he broke the ‘FEDAL’ duopoly and carved a niche for himself as one of the greatest players of all time.