Novak Djokovic’s ‘courage’ makes him the ‘undisputed GOAT’, claims Reilly Opelka

Ewan West
Novak Djokovic in action
Novak Djokovic celebrates

ATP star Reilly Opelka believes Novak Djokovic is the undisputed greatest tennis player of all time due to his ‘courage.’

The former world No 17 also admitted Carlos Alcaraz is on a different level to rising American men’s players, comparing the Spaniard to both Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Djokovic shares the men’s record of 22 Grand Slam singles with his great rival, Nadal. The Serbian claimed a record-extending 10th Australian Open crown in January, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in a straight-set final.

The 35-year-old Serbian is currently competing at just his fourth tournament since the Melbourne Major at the Italian Open. He will play Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the second round of the clay-court ATP Masters 1000 event on Friday. 

The world No 1 could not enter the United States to play events in Indian Wells and Miami due to the country’s vaccine mandate, which has since been lifted.

Speaking on Tennis Channel’s Inside In podcast, Opelka argued Djokovic’s bravery and willingness to stand by his beliefs are among his most important qualities.

“People like criticising Novak. He has applied those concepts that he has in life like him having the courage to just take a stand, not play both sides of the coin like how his peers do and just face things head on is the reason why he is the undisputed greatest tennis player that has ever lived,” Opelka said.

“He puts himself on the line and I respect that, part of it because the media has never given him a fair share because like I said, he doesn’t play into what they want so he’s the enemy of the tennis media. Most players are super grateful for him, he’s a pro’s pro, he really is.”

The 25-year-old American then suggested even the best of his compatriots on the ATP tour will not match Alcaraz’s excellence.

“I don’t think we’ll ever get a guy to beat Alcaraz. Like, Taylor Fritz is the best American hands down right now. He’s just so consistent, he takes care of everyone he’s supposed to. But now, you know, with Alcaraz coming up and Holger Rune.

“Look what happened in Miami. As great as a ball striker as Fritz is, Alcaraz is so fast. Tennis wise, he is up there with Novak and Rafa.”

Opelka, who has not played since August last year due to a hip injury, is currently ranked 324th.

MORE: Novak Djokovic ‘feels good’ but labels Carlos Alcaraz ‘the player to beat’ on clay