At 36, Djokovic entered the tournament as one of the oldest on the court, but you wouldn’t have guessed in the way he dismissed some of his younger opponents, expertly navigating the rough of the clay to reach another career final. Djokovic’s third victory in Paris, and his record 23rd Grand Slam, writes a new chapter in the Serbian’s already decorated legacy to secure his lasting longevity in this celebrated game.
Fans around the world have been spoiled by arguably tennis’ greatest generation over the last 20 years. With Roger Federer’s graceful elegance, Nadal’s explosive power and Djokovic’s relentless precision, each of these champions have exchanged fatal blows throughout the years to contribute to the classic sagas of men’s tennis during the modern era. Together, they embody the ideals of great champions, unyielding in their pursuit of perfection and a testament to the timeless allure of this sport.
Now this golden era of men’s tennis has reached its climax. Federer retired from the game with 20 Grand Slam titles at aged 41, and Rafa Nadal is struggling for peak fitness after almost 25 years of professional tennis. Djokovic, although the youngest of the three, is showing no signs of slowing down. To quote Ed Helms’ character in the hit sitcom The Office, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”
Following his victory in France, Djokovic has reached the halfway point of an unprecedented calendar-year Grand Slam after claiming the Australian Open in Melbourne earlier this year. And with Wimbledon and New York just around the corner, Djokovic is on the cusp of becoming the first player to achieve this remarkable feat since 1969.
“Which challenge motivates me the most? I would love to have a chance in New York again. I’d like to win Wimbledon, which is a very different mountain to climb, and having won the last four Wimbledons gives me a different confidence.”Novak Djokovic
This was, of course, the first Roland-Garros without Rafael Nadal, and in the same week that the World No1 lifted his record trophy in the French capital, Paris’ favourite prince Nadal fell out of the ATP Top 100 rankings for the first time in 20 years. ‘The King of Clay’ has been a perennial figure in Paris since claiming his first French title in 2005, gracing these fabled Parisian courts to win this prestigious tournament a record 14 times.
WATCH Djokovic joke about his age at the 2023 Australian Open below.
And where the romantic in all of us would’ve loved to have seen a new king emerge in the form of 20-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who, after taking the second set 7-5 in the semi-finals, looked to have the upper hand and put increasing pressure on the Serbian’s game, Djokovic’s unrelenting authority in Grand Slam tennis shone through, rising to the occasion to beat the new challenger, claiming the final two sets, 6-1, 6-1.
“I have to take lesson from that experience and, you know, it’s something that I have to deal, and of course I will have more experience in the next match.”Carlos Alcaraz
Alcaraz will undoubtedly have another opportunity to claim his crown, but following the retirement of tennis legends Roger Federer and Andy Murray and the fading performance of the great Rafa Nadal, Djokovic’s continued dominance elevates him as the last player of a golden era of tennis – the last of tennis’ old guard.