Friday, June 3, 2016

Djokovic is playing for more than just the Career Grand Slam

Leading up to Roland Garros for each of the last four years, all the talk has been about Novak Djokovic looking to chase the elusive Career Grand Slam, which is an achievement made by only four male players in the Open Era.

However, this year, the world No. 1 is in search of something far more impressive than that. Djokovic is playing for the Grand Slam, which hasn't been done since 1969 by Rod Laver and is considered the greatest achievement in tennis. So why then has the story line not changed since last year? Why are we still talking about a Career Grand Slam, when Djokovic is contending for THEE Grand Slam?

Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim said "No. 1 Novak Djokovic will be going for his (cut-and-paste) elusive first French Open Title." However, this isn't a "cut-and-paste" scenario. The Serb is playing for so much more than one elusive title as he was the past three years.

In the mailbag section of Wertheim's article, he was asked more specifically about Djokovic's pursuit of history as a reader pointed out the lack of coverage for what specifically Djokovic is on the brink of achieving. He responded "Interesting point. Devil's advocate: artificial or not, there is a huge distinction between winning the calendar Slam and the wraparound Slam."

Actually, Wertheim is totally right. There is a distinction between the two slams. However, the distinction is completely artificial. Both achievements are winning four slams in a row. The only difference is the order.

There is not a single good reason why winning the four majors in one order is any more impressive than winning them in a different order. Winning four slams in a row in any order is equivalent.

There should be no distinction between winning a calendar Slam or winning the wraparound Slam. Either one is the Grand Slam. Why should Djokovic have to win six majors in a row to win the Grand Slam? Why did Serena Williams have to win five in a row to win the Grand Slam?
There are a few possible reasons. The first being that the American media wants the US Open to be the only place where the Grand Slam can be completed. It would lend more importance to their home major and especially with Williams being an American, it generates more hype for the tournament.

However, the American media isn't the only one ignoring Djokovic's pursuit of the Grand Slam. The other possible reason is a Federer bias. Djokovic's struggle to win Roland Garros is frequently likened to Federer's quest for the same title. Talk of a Grand Slam instead of chasing an elusive title would ruin that narrative and put Djokovic about Federer. Perhaps the media believes it's easier to sell the idea of Djokovic chasing Federer rather than Djokovic chasing Laver.

Whatever the reason may be, Djokovic is one win away from completing the Grand Slam, which hasn't been done in 47 years, If Djokovic defeats Murray, that final should always be remembered as the day Djokovic became the first player since Laver to win the Grand Slam,


  1. I agree! It's a non-calendar year Grand Slam!

  2. Novak will come back strong at the US open. He said at the press conference of Wimbledon that he needs some time away from tennis.

  3. Great article Jared. Tennis fans claim to be progressive thinkers but they mostly seem stuck in a Federer-Nadal paradigm which disallows new entrants. Those two are deities to fans and they don't want anyone treading on them. It's like if you told a religious person that someone is better than Jesus. The fans don't want it.

    They also hate Djokovic because he's a normal dude who has too much fun on court. Tennis establishment types like their players acting serious to a fault. Djokovic also comes off too much like an alpha male and it tarnishes their preconceived notions that tennis players are meant to be beta males.