MELBOURNE (AFP) – Novak Djokovic put Roger Federer on notice as he won his 17th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open and warned he was going all-out for the Swiss’s record of 20 – and his mark for weeks as world number one.
Djokovic, who came through a mid-match slump to win his eighth title in Melbourne, is relentlessly totting up the victories that could soon end the debate over who’s the greatest in history.
The five-set victory over Dominic Thiem was his eighth in eight finals in Melbourne, putting him alongside Federer and Nadal as the only men to win the same Slam eight times.
It makes Djokovic, 32, the first man in the Open era, and only the second in history, to win Grand Slam titles in three different decades – and as a not-insignificant bonus, returns him to world number one.
In an ominous sign for his rivals, the Serb has started the year unbeaten with Wimbledon, the French Open, the Tokyo Olympics and the United States (US) Open all lying in front of him as tantali-sing opportunities.
He is clear-sighted about his goals: overtaking Nadal’s 19 Major titles and Federer’s 20 to become the all-time Grand Slam king, and outdoing the Swiss master’s record 310 weeks in the top ranking.
Djokovic has so far clocked up 276 weeks as number one and could pass second-placed Pete Sampras’s 286 in April, and Federer’s 310 on October 5.