A Tale Of Four Slams – How Djokovic was denied a chance to win a slew of Major titles

Novak Djokovic continues to amaze the tennis world with his statistical records, unassailable baseline play and superhuman flexibility.

But for all his achievements, he has encountered significant obstacles in recent years that threaten his dominance on the professional tour.

Either through bad luck, the decision of tournament directors and governments, or through his own fault, Djokovic missed a chance to compete in four Grand Slams where he had a significant chance of winning – Wimbledon 2020, the 2020 US Open, the 2022 Australian Open and the 2022 US Open Here we examine why Djokovic was denied the win, why he was likely to win and the impact it had on the Tour.

Federer Djokovic Nadal Slams

Remarkably, after all the upheaval of a global health crisis, only one of the four Grand Slams of 2020 has been cancelled. After the World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, the Australian Open had time to stage a successful tournament without mask-wearing or the impending social distancing.

Later in April, as Britain emerged from its first national lockdown, the All England Club canceled Wimbledon.

Restrictions would hamper preparations, while the thought of large public gatherings raised alarm. Not only did this come as a shock to Djokovic, but of course it affected the entire potential draw.

If Djokovic had played that year, in all likelihood he would have won. His wins at the tournament essentially cover the missing Wimbledon year, winning in 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022.

During that time, Djokovic was clearly in a hot streak at the tournament, while repeated successes had cemented his belief in victory there.

Not to mention that Roger Federer – the only other player who could claim dominance of the grass and rival Djokovic on that surface – was out of the picture due to surgery.

Eventually, in retrospect, a 2020 Wimbledon win could have matched Djokovic with Federer’s record five consecutive Grand Slams and Nadal’s record twenty-two Grand Slams.

But just a few months later, Djokovic’s high chances of winning the US Open plummeted dramatically. Bad luck and an angry racquet move cost him another major title.

In the round of 16 against Pablo Carreno Busta, Djokovic was unable to convert three set balls at the beginning of the match to make it 5: 4. Busta started catching Djokovic and held the serve for 5-5.

At 15:40, Djokovic pushed Busta deep behind the baseline and tried to cause more trouble with a drop shot. However, Busta managed to get the ball after a daring sprint and slid it past Djokovic for an angled winner, hitting the right touchline.

Frustrated by the lost serve, Djokovic took a ball out of his pocket and, without looking, accidentally hit a linesman’s throat.

A mixture of anger, lack of awareness and the umpire’s unfortunate positioning resulted in a serious situation where Djokovic attempted to rationally and argumentatively talk his way out of discussions with the tournament umpire.

After the disqualification was pronounced, the Serb immediately packed up and left the tournament, physically removing himself from an epicenter of the drama.

Looking at what became the quarterfinal draw, it’s easy to guess that Djokovic would have likely won here. In addition to Busta, Denis Shapovalov, Borna Coric, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev, Daniil Medvedev, Alex de Minaur and Dominic Theim were also there.

Neither of those players held a Grand Slam, and only one – Theim – had appeared in a Grand Slam final, losing to Djokovic in Australia that year.

Additionally, Djokovic had a successful head-to-head record against six of the eight players. Rublev and de Minaur did not face Djokovic but were clearly outclassed by him.

Of course, the number of Grand Slams had consequences, but what was more interesting was that the broader implication was that a brand new Major champion would be crowned.

They would also be the youngest because all active major champions were in their 30s at the time.

It would be the first time the winner of a Grand Slam has finished outside the big three since Andy Murray’s 2016 Wimbledon run.

It seemed back then that nothing could top the disaster of Djokovic’s 2020 US Open run, until the Serb faced the Australian government in an all-powerful clash.

In November 2021, local Victorian officials from Tennis Australia ordered players to be vaccinated with very few exceptions.

On January 4, 2022, Djokovic triumphantly posted on Instagram stating that he could compete in the Open after being granted a Therapeutic Use Exemption.

Djokovic Melbourne

In the turmoil that followed, it would emerge that Djokovic had tested positive for Covid-19 on December 16, prompting the Victorian officials’ exemption.

However, after landing in Melbourne, Djokovic was arrested by the Australian Border Force, who questioned the validity of his travel visa. In a quick about-face, Victoria informed border troops that they were no longer maintaining Djokovic’s travel authorization.

After a series of fast-paced legal battles, Immigration Secretary Alex Hawk confirmed that Djokovic’s visa was indeed annulled on January 14, preventing him from competing at the Australian Open.

Besides the desire to keep the event safe, other motives became apparent. With a general election later this year, the Australian government wanted to set an example and support a segment of voters who distrust Covid-19 and favor strict border policies.

While it’s harder to say if Djokovic would have won the Australian Open than the other two cases above, it’s fair to say his chances were still decent.

On his way to the final, there would have been two big hitters in his half of the draw – Zverev and Nadal. In the other half of the draw, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Rublev and Medvedev were all potential threats but had to cancel each other out, leaving just one as a potential finalist.

In the end, Medvedev prevailed. It’s interesting to speculate what would have happened in a Djokovic-Medvedev final.

Djokovic had won six of his ten previous encounters, all of his victories having come on hard courts. The critical point about Djokovic’s absence is that it spurred Nadal’s bid to win a record-breaking twenty-first Major, denying the Serb a chance to catch up and oust Nadal on twenty-two Slams (if he was added to his Wimbledon conquest later this summer). ). .

The question left unanswered after the visa debacle was that the ban theoretically meant Djokovic was banned from Australia for three years, jeopardizing future success at the tournament. However, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has hinted that the government may review this in due course.

The story concludes with another vaccination order affecting Djokovic at the 2022 US Open.

Unlike last year, in response to the rise in Covid-19 variants, the US government has made the jab mandatory for players wishing to enter the tournament.

Nadal and Medvedev would be the biggest obstacles to overcome. But given Djokovic’s carefully developed hard-court specialization and strong three-title record at the US Open, he would have the most winning experience there compared to the remaining players in the draw.

Again, there are Grand Slam tally implications, but interestingly, these setbacks have broader ramifications.

Just as Djokovic seems to gain strength from opponents on the pitch – whether it’s a formidable opponent or a hostile crowd, these tournament disasters have only fueled his strength and bolstered his resolve.

In the midst of the fiascos of 2020 and 2022, Djokovic almost achieved the unthinkable – a calendar Grand Slam in 2021, where he defeated Nadal at Roland Garros and became the only man to do so twice. Despite losing to Medvedev in straight sets in the 2021 US Open final, it’s almost certain that Djokovic’s entry blockade will only be used to seek more success.

Do you think Djokovic was treated fairly in these four cases? Where would Djokovic be now if he were allowed to play? And how will his absence from the US Open affect his career and the rest of the field? Leave your comments below.

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