It is Novak’s sport now, no debate, no arguments.
After Grand Slam No. 23, a two-week romp through which Djokovic misplaced all of two units out of 23 on a floor that’s traditionally his worst, outlasting a cramping Carlos Alcaraz within the semifinal and prompting Casper Ruud to lose his will after an hermetic first set within the last, it’s not simply the burden of historical past propping up the 2023 males’s French Open champion, however the actuality of his longevity.
Rafael Nadal, who Djokovic handed in main victories for the primary time ever on Sunday, will end his profession in 2024. Roger Federer, who for therefore lengthy seemed so indomitable, retired final yr.
Djokovic is 36, an age at which the likes of Alcaraz and Ruud ought to by rights have had him gassed by the top of their respective matches. Instead, it was the younger Alcaraz whose physique betrayed him within the third set on Friday. And it was Djokovic who discovered a second wind after happening a break within the first set to Ruud on Sunday, and who held serve for the remainder of the match, successful 7-6 (1), 6-3, 7-5.
The solely honor that has up to now eluded Djokovic is an Olympic gold medal, and he can put that to relaxation subsequent summer time on the identical purple clay on which he simply performed a flawless two weeks.
What is so galling about Djokovic’s greatness is that, regardless of his age, he appears to be like as if he’ll put far between himself and Nadal by the top of his profession. Maybe there’s something to the weight-reduction plan and crystal routine in spite of everything.
You wouldn’t guess towards him in London or New York — in truth, Djokovic appears to be like primed to make one other run at sweeping all 4 Slams in a calendar yr, a feat that eluded him by a solitary match in 2021 and which has not been executed by a males’s singles participant since Rod Laver in 1969. (By the best way, bear in mind the quaint days of 15 years in the past when Laver may nonetheless be thought of the GOAT in respectable circles and Pete Sampras held the all-time Slam file with 14?)
Paris, the place Alcaraz got here into the event because the betting favourite, seemed just like the venue the place Djokovic was more than likely to falter. So a lot for that.
Djokovic has not solely set the file for males, however appears to be like set to move Serena Williams, with whom he’s at the moment tied for probably the most majors within the open period, and Margaret Court, who received 24 majors within the newbie period.
He additionally holds the information for many weeks ranked No. 1 (a distinction he re-earned on Sunday), probably the most profession Masters tournaments received (38) and Grand Slam finals reached (34), whereas being tied with Federer for probably the most year-end championship titles (six).
His file at majors because the begin of 2021 is a staggering 44-2. And because the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine, Djokovic has misplaced as many main titles as a result of he was unable to enter the nation through which the event was held as he has on the court docket — two apiece.
That does, nevertheless, carry us to the disagreeable a part of Djokovic’s anointment: his nearly inherent unlikability.
That is a considerably widespread attribute amongst GOATs. Tom Brady is as hated by New Yorkers as anybody who has ever performed a sport. Michael Jordan threw punches at teammates, made enjoyable of then-Bulls normal supervisor Jerry Krause’s weight and was famously egocentric. Tiger Woods’ marriage fell aside after his rampant dishonest grew to become public. You could be hard-pressed to discover a reporter with a optimistic factor to say about Barry Bonds’ persona. Bob Knight recurrently employed techniques that might in the present day be thought of abusive and was an open sexist. Jim Brown was arrested seven instances for assault, together with towards girls.
Rarely does that stop anybody on that checklist from being embraced amongst a sure section of followers — some bigger than others — and so it’s with Djokovic, whose nation is experiencing a sporting second with him and Nikola Jokic.
Djokovic continues to wade into politics — as not too long ago as this French Open by claiming that Kosovo is part of Serbia amidst political controversy within the nation, which declared independence in 2008 — in methods that won’t assist him in that side.
At this level, it appears a on condition that he doesn’t care, nor will he be cajoled into caring, concerning the public relations disasters he recurrently courts.
And, prefer it or not, he’s in all probability proper to not care. The first traces of his obituary, in spite of everything, won’t be concerning the COVID-19 vaccine. They can be about his simple standing as the best males’s tennis participant of all-time.
Today’s again web page
Despite the romanticization of George Steinbrenner’s possession, it’s price remembering for Mets followers that the Yankees didn’t win all that a lot whereas Steinbrenner was going by way of managers at a yearly clip.
It is in truth the crew’s stability — three managers and one normal supervisor over the past 25 years — that has helped result in a run through which the Yankees have missed the playoffs simply 4 instances and completed with a successful file yearly throughout that span.
Between 1982-94, when Steinbrenner recurrently took heart stage, the Yankees burned by way of 12 managers, a sequence of marquee gamers and by no means made the playoffs. That is not any instance for Steve Cohen to observe.
Maybe Buck Showalter and Billy Eppler are the best mixture for the Mets. Maybe not. It is inarguable that each have made errors resulting in the crew’s disastrous begin, and that if the frustration doesn’t abate, they need to be held accountable.
But Cohen does appear to appreciate, appropriately, that nothing could be solved by cleansing home now apart from giving followers a fast dopamine hit.
“When issues get actually dangerous, I’m not going to explode,” Cohen solely advised The Post’s Joel Sherman. “I don’t assume that’s the right response. I don’t assume it solves something, apart from it provides individuals a one-day story. But it doesn’t actually remedy something.”
If this continues (and heading into the primary Subway Series of the season this week after shedding two of three to the Pirates over the weekend hints it’d), there’ll come a degree at which there isn’t a alternative however to make modifications, at which the season isn’t salvageable.
Right now, although, such modifications — when candidate swimming pools for potential replacements are by no means deep — would solely serve to hasten the Mets’ downward plunge.
At least for the second, higher to apply endurance — and for Cohen to set himself aside from Steinbrenner.
The good guys
The Nuggets are one win away from closing in on a title that no one exterior of Miami could be upset about.
After a decade through which NBA titles had been consolidated by superteams, the final three seasons have introduced a refreshingly completely different vibe, none extra so than this Denver crew. It feels not not like the 2014 Spurs — a bunch that’s larger than the sum of its components, performs visually interesting basketball and has carved a knife by way of groups which can be extra gifted on paper.
Nikola Jokic at the moment leads the playoffs in complete factors, assists and rebounds — a feat that has by no means been executed if he manages to drag it off. If they win Monday, the Nuggets can have gotten by way of the playoffs with out ever having been down in a sequence. Miami’s Game 2 victory to drag the Finals even was considered one of simply two instances they had been in a tied sequence that was not 0-0.
Even with out Jokic, and he was on the bench for a key stretch of Game 4, Denver appears to be like ascendant.
Better than that, the Nuggets appear to be that uncommon championship crew we are able to all get behind.
Surely, Denver has waited lengthy sufficient for a basketball championship, with the Nuggets by no means having received a lot as a convention title since 1976 within the ABA.
If Jokic or Jamal Murray have skeletons of their closets, we haven’t discovered them but. You can’t know a crew’s tradition with out being in it, however by all accounts, the Nuggets appear to have an excellent one. They have constructed this crew the best means, sticking by coach Michael Malone and by the star gamers they drafted.
And for all of the speak about Jokic’s lack of persona, the basketball he performs is fantastic. So is the basketball Denver performs — shifting the ball and shifting off the ball as an alternative of an countless parade of 3-pointers.
You must go all the best way to possession and Stan Kroenke to search out one thing really unlikeable concerning the Nuggets and, actually, if possession is your litmus take a look at, then there aren’t many franchises left so that you can root for.