How Novak Djokovic will end the GOAT debate once and for all

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic cheers after his victory.

Novak Djokovic joined Rafael Nadal at the top of the list of male Grand Slam winners as he claimed his 22nd with his tenth victory at the Australian, but how many more will he win?

The Serbian struggled to contain his emotions as he won once again in Melbourne, a year after he was deported from Australia over his Covid-19 vaccine status.

Djokovic dropped just one set all tournament – despite saying he feared a left hamstring problem might force him to withdraw – and finished with a 6-3 7-6 (4) 7-6 (5) victory over first-time Australian Open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas to claim another title.

At the age of 35, Djokovic is showing no sign of slowing down and he suggested some of his performances in this latest Australian Open win were the best of his career.

When it comes to the guessing game of how many major titles he will win, Djokovic has suggested he will continue to play for “another two or three years” and if he continues at his current rate of winning, that could take him close to 30 Grand Slam wins.

“I think if you tell Novak he can sign for 25 Grand Slam titles, he would say yes,” Corretja told Tennis365 in his role as Eurosport and discovery+ analyst.

“He can still play some more years at a good level, but it will get tougher and tougher.

“If you ask him to close his eyes and ask him now if would he accept 25 at the end, I think that would be an amazing achievement.

“30 Slams? I think, would be too much, but I think he is in a position where he could add some Slams.

“I don’t think he is showing many weaknesses on his game, but the young ones are pushing as well.

“Every time it is going to be tougher and tougher and every time he steps into a Grand Slam, he knows there are not many left. Even if he is in such great shape.”

With Djokovic now level with Nadal in 22 major wins, the discussion over how many more he will win is on and tennis legend John McEnroe has predicted the number he may get to.

“At this point, it’s hard not to see him winning two or three more at a minimum,” McEnroe told Eurosport.

“Roger I believe won three from 35 onwards, Rafa’s also won three.

“He’s probably the best athlete of the three and in terms of being able to recover and he hasn’t had a lot of injuries. I could easily see him winning at least three more.

“That is extremely difficult to do and takes a lot of dedication. And that’s why these guys have separated themselves – those three guys.

“They’re not only better than the other players, they’re hungrier, they’re more disciplined and they do whatever it takes.

“This guy’s in a hyperbaric chamber like ten times a day or something. It’s crazy what these guys are willing to do, incredible.”

Djokovic also reclaimed the world No 1 ranking from Carlos Alcaraz and it would be very difficult to argue that he does not justify that position having once again put the younger generations in their place.

His status in Australia, meanwhile, is unmatched, with the 35-year-old winning a 28th consecutive Australian Open match and a 41st in a row in the country as a whole.

So are we already at a point where we can hail Djokovic as the greatest male tennis player of all-time?

Not yet, but that moment is coming.

That final verdict will only be delivered when he wins his final Grand Slam title, but it now seems inevitable that he will move past Nadal as the most successful player in Grand Slam tournaments on the men’s side of the game.

Djokovic is also likely to leap over Serena Williams’ haul of 23 Grand Slam titles and Margaret Court’s all-time leading mark of 24.

He could even do all of this in 2023, as he will be favourite to win another Wimbledon title and the US Open, if he is allowed into America to compete in the final major of the year.

So while the coronation of the GOAT in tennis is on hold for now, the engraver can start to etch the name of Djokovic on to the list of the greatest players in tennis history.

Watch every match from Roland-Garros, 28 May – June 11, LIVE and exclusively on discovery+ and Eurosport