Novak Djokovic backed to go for 28 Grand Slams and labelled the GOAT by former rival

Ewan West
Novak Djokovic wins a 24th Grand Slam title
Novak Djokovic wins a 24th Grand Slam title

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has asserted that Novak Djokovic is the greatest tennis player of all time over his rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. 

The former world No 5 believes the great Serbian, who he competed against frequently, could win as many as 28 Grand Slam titles.

Tsonga – who won 18 ATP titles, including two at Masters 1000 level – called an end to his impressive 18-year career after the 2022 French Open.

The 38-year-old reached the final of the 2008 Australian Open as an unseeded player and was beaten by Djokovic as the Serb claimed his maiden Major title. The Frenchman won six of the 23 matches he contested against the tennis legend from 2008 to 2019.

Djokovic defeated world No 3 Daniil Medvedev in straight sets in the 2023 US Open final in September to win his 24th Grand Slam title and third Major crown in a superb season.

The world No 1 has now three Grand Slam tournaments in a season four times in his remarkable career, following outstanding years in 2011, 2015 an 2021.

The Serbian holds two more Major titles than Nadal – who sits second on the all-time men’s list with 22. Federer, who retired last year, is in third place on 20 Majors.

The 36-year-old has now won 12 Grand Slam titles in his 30s and has a stunning 12-3 record in Major championship matches since turning 30.

READ MORE: Novak Djokovic is one win away from achieving a ‘big goal’

Speaking in an interview with Le Republicain Lorrain, Tsonga identified Djokovic as the best player in the history of the sport and backed him to add to his record Major tally.

“The GOAT is Djokovic. And I think he can go for 25, 26, 27… maybe 28 Grand Slam tournaments. You never know,” declared the 38-year-old.

Tsonga, a Davis Cup champion in 2017, was asked to choose between coaching a top 20 ATP player or captaining France’s Davis Cup team.

“Coach a top 20 player in the world or become captain of the Blues? Davis Cup coach. It means a lot to me, yes, but above all I could train several players in the top 20, I hope,” said the Frenchman.

The 2011 ATP Finals runner-up also reflected on the injury issues that led to his retirement and how he dealt with setbacks during his career.

“I have dealt with a lot of injuries during my career. All great athletes face this. The best are obviously those who manage these difficult times best. Don’t be discouraged, optimise these moments as best you can to work on the rest,” explained Tsonga.

“To capitalise as best as possible when we feel better and get back on track. I stopped my career because my body could no longer tolerate the injuries and the pace.”

Djokovic will face Holger Rune in his first match at the 2023 ATP Finals in Turin, where he is the defending champion, on Sunday. Jannik Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas – the other two players in the Green Group – will face off in the first match of the year-end championships.

READ MORE: ATP Finals field head-to-head details: Novak Djokovic and Holger Rune’s outstanding records against rivals