LONDON – Novak Djokovic, who won his 24th Grand Slam title at the US Open last Sunday, will dominate men’s tennis for years because younger players have yet to reach his level, according to Andy Murray.
The Serb’s latest triumph at Flushing Meadows saw him equal Margaret Court’s record of Grand Slam singles titles.
“It’s up to the young guys to be pushing Novak and looking to overtake him. But it doesn’t look like that’s close to happening,” Murray, 36, told the BBC on Monday.
“He proved that he’s the best player in the world again yesterday and, like I said, it’s up to the youngsters to improve enough to take him.”
Djokovic, who is also 36 and one of tennis’ “Big Three” with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer who dominated men’s tennis for the past two decades, had said he had no plans to retire just yet.
“Novak’s longevity has been the greatest. He’s played at this level for such a long time now,” added Britain’s Murray, who won three Grand Slams.
In July, Spain’s rising star Carlos Alcaraz, 20, ended Djokovic’s Wimbledon reign after the Serb had won four titles in a row at the All England Club. However, Murray believes the wrong conclusions were drawn from the Spaniard’s victory.
“I said that after Wimbledon, everyone was saying it was a changing of the guard, but it wasn’t for me,” he said.
“Physically, motivation, whether someone like Alcaraz improves – he’s an amazing player Alcaraz, he’s brilliant, but to do what Novak is doing on a consistent basis is different.”
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Djokovic, who has regained his world No. 1 ranking, will next travel to Valencia and join the Serbia team for their Davis Cup Finals group-stage ties against South Korea, Spain and Czech Republic.
It is not just Murray who is in awe of the veteran star – Serbia teammate Miomir Kecmanovic said on Monday that Djokovic can give them a huge advantage, although he is likely to feature only in the final two clashes.
“We can’t wait to have him for Friday,” Kecmanovic said before their Group C opener against South Korea on Tuesday.
“It definitely takes a little bit of the pressure off since he always carried the team so well. But our focus is to get through Tuesday, hopefully get the win and then start a little bit more relaxed on Friday.”
Spain will be without Alcaraz when they take on Serbia on Friday, after the Wimbledon champion withdrew to recover following his US Open semi-final defeat by Daniil Medvedev.
“It was tough because Carlos is an important player, one of the best players in the world,” Spain captain David Ferrer said. “But I trust my team. I’m very confident we can have a great week and can compete with everyone.”
Sweden face Chile, France meet Switzerland and the Netherlands play Finland when the group stage kicks off on Tuesday across four cities – Bologna, Manchester, Valencia and Split.
The top two teams from each of the four groups will advance to the knockout round in Malaga from Nov 21 to 26.
Defending champions Canada clinched their first title in the premier team event by beating Australia in the 2022 final.
The two finalists are joined by the 12 winners of the 2023 qualifiers – Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Britain, South Korea, Netherlands, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States – apart from wild cards Italy and Spain.
Now ranked 41st in singles after some serious career-threatening injuries and struggling to make an impact in Grand Slam tournaments, Murray is craving one last tilt at a major title.
“I do genuinely believe the team can win the event,” he said in a separate press conference on Monday.
“There’s huge motivation to be a part of it. I want to help the team in any way I can, whether that’s on the court or off. We’ll see what happens.” REUTERS, AFP
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