He had been knocking on the door for the past few months, but Novak Djokovic completed his comeback with a resounding win at SW19, which not only ended his two-year major drought, but has also brought him right back into the think of thick as far as the ATP tour is concerned.
With Wimbledon being his first title of any form in over 18 months, Djokovic is not only back to winning ways, he is also back in the top 10, and it should only be a matter of time before he cracks the top 3 – at the very least – especially since he has no points to defend from last year for the remainder of the season.
All this has happened with Djokovic’s preferred North American hard court and indoor swings yet to come this season, and following the Wimbledon triumph there should not be any limits to the Serb’s ambitions for this year and beyond.
We’ve discussed in this space how Djokovic contending for titles was eventually going to happen, but what was also reiterated was how it might not be possible for him to scale the heights of 2011 and 2015-16.
With a major already under the bag in his comeback trail, there of course would be more expectations that Djokovic will be putting on himself. But it is safe to say that he’s still not within the proximity of those two spells, where he was virtually unbeatable for most parts on any given surface, against any opposition.
The great news for the Wimbledon champion is that he’s winning majors without reaching that level, and should he actually replicate anything remotely similar to his peak form, he could be looking at the summit of men’s tennis very soon. Even so, it is important for Djokovic to not get carried away and keep building on what he has achieved. When he began his comeback trial earlier this year Djokovic maintained that he wanted to return to being the number one in the world, and following the Wimbledon triumph that particular goal might well be in his sights. It is, however, pivotal to pace his journey properly.
Djokovic’s Wimbledon, similar to what he did all those years ago, has broken the duopoly of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the very top of the game. Fedal had won the previous six Grand Slam titles prior to SW19 and have been swapping the number one ranking for the past 12 months.
Even though Nadal now has a significant lead over Federer at the top of ATP rankings after the Swiss dropped points after exiting at the quarterfinals stage and Wimbledon, which should guarantee the number one ranking for the Spaniard till at least the US Open.
And depending on how everyone fares at Flushing Meadows we could be in for an intriguing ranking race till the World Tour Finals in November, just like last year.
Before the US Open though the ATP Masters 1000 events in Toronto and Cincinnati take place where a total of 2,000 ranking points and two coveted pieces of silverware are up for grabs. Those tournaments will also give us a preview into who is in the best shape ahead for the hard court season.
Despite the loss against Djokovic, which was one of two absolute crackers of matches that Nadal was involved in, the World No 1 would take confidence from his run at Wimbledon, where he made his first semifinal in seven years, and was within a point or two – and an inch or two – from beating the eventual champion.
He’s already dominated the clay season, which is what he primes himself for, and can now look into the hard court season where he will be defending his US Open title and has points to gain in Toronto and Cincinnati where he didn’t make it too far last year. Nadal could also have an eye on the indoor season, where he doesn’t fare to well historically and which was injury-marred for him last season.
Like Nadal looks to peak at Roland Garros, Federer does the same for Wimbledon these days. The disappointment at SW19 could push him to go for the US Open title, after having already bagged the Australian Open this year. However, it depends on how much his body can further take, and maybe after already setting the record for the oldest ever ATP number one this season, he might already focusing on Wimbledon next year.
Therefore, the opportunity is there for Djokovic to take a shot at the US Open, which would be the first major in a while that mightn’t have a clear cut favourite, unless someone sweeps the two ATP 1000 events leading up to it.
What looks extremely likely though that the Big 3 aren’t likely to be challenged by the younger lot any time soon, with the likes of Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios fading away at majors, and Dominic Thiem struggling to make a deep run outside of clay.
Hence it is extremely likely that one of Djokovic, Nadal or Federer would bag the US Open, and take their cumulative tally to even new towering heights.
With Djokovic winning his 13th major at Wimbledon – now fourth on the all-time list just one behind Pete Sampras – the trio have won 50 Grand Slam titles. And while Federer and Nadal were the men to beat with their resounding comebacks over the past 18 months, it’s Djokovic who well and truly commands that seat.