Novak Djokovic names one player who ‘definitely deserves a Grand Slam title’

Shahida Jacobs
Novak Djokovic pointing during on-court interview
Novak Djokovic gestures to the crowd during an on-court interview

Novak Djokovic has highlighted just “how difficult it is to climb to the top” and win a Grand Slam as he declared that Alexander Zverev “deserves” a major because of “all he has done so far in the sport”.

The quarter-finals have been set at Wimbledon 2024 and it is loaded with players who haven’t won a Grand Slam as Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul, Alex de Minaur and Lorenzo Musetti are still left in the men’s draw while Elina Svitolina, Lulu Sun, Donna Vekic, Jasmine Paolini and Emma Navarro are yet to lift a major trophy on the women’s side.

Djokovic knows all too well how tough it is to take the step up to become a Slam winner with his first major coming at the 2008 Australian Open. He then had to wait three more years as he initially struggled to crack the Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal dominance, but once he found the code he was unstoppable.

He is now just three Wimbledon match wins away from a record-extending 25th Grand Slam, but is all too familiar with the challenges of making a breakthrough.

“They’re different challenges, or so to say, different levels of achievements in our sport,” he explained. “Obviously the big one is how to win a Slam. Then an even bigger one is how to be No 1. Then even a bigger one is how to be winning multiple Slams. Then even a bigger one is how to do that for years and be the No 1 player in the world for multiple years.

“Most of the players don’t achieve that in the course of their careers. I’ve been very blessed to be in that position. I’m very proud of all the achievements, but I do know how difficult it is to climb to the top.

“Like Zverev, for example, is a very good example. When you see his results, when you see his game, all he has done so far in the sport, he definitely deserves a Grand Slam title, right? But he was so close against Dominic Thiem in US Open. Played finals this year. He was up against [Carlos] Alcaraz in the finals of Roland Garros. Many times semis. Just edging closer and closer.”

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Zverev lost the 2021 US Open final in five sets against Thiem and also finished runner-up to Alcaraz at this year’s French Open as he once again went down in five sets.

Djokovic continued: “It’s not easy. It’s not easy. The longer it goes without you winning a Slam title, the more you think about it. The more this pressure mounts on you every time you’re in that situation where, Okay, I’m playing for the title again. Then you start doubting yourself.

“It’s a huge icebreaker when you manage to win the first one. For players like Dominic Thiem, for example, when he won his Grand Slam, only Grand Slam, after that he couldn’t maintain that level for too long. Unfortunately, injuries caught up with him.

“It’s unfortunate to have a player like that also not being able to be consistent with his level. He’s a player who could have won easily multiple Slams. On clay court, as well.

“You have unbelievable players that never won a Slam, but they deserved to do. It’s just that Grand Slams are whole different animals in comparison to other tournaments.”