Bock’s Score: A Very Interesting Summer Slam

JB Autissier/Panoramic/Icon Sportswire

This could be a very interesting tennis summer for Novak Djokovic, fresh off his dramatic victory in the French Open on the punishing red clay courts of Roland Garros in Paris. He is halfway to a Grand Slam and maybe more than that, and at age 34 he is making a statement for advanced tennis age.

Next up is Wimbledon, where Djokovic is the defending champion and coming off two of the most memorable matches of his career – a four-set classic against longtime rival Rafael Nadal in the semifinals and then a grueling five-set triumph over Stefanos Tsitsipas for the championship.

After Wimbledon comes the Tokyo Olympics, barring any last-minute pandemic cancellation and then the U.S. Open on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows. Win them all and it would mean The Golden Grand Slam, no small achievement.
Djokovic has the game and the resilience to pull this off. He showed that at Paris by twice recovering from losing the first two sets to win his matches and capture his 19th career Grand Slam singles title. That is one short of the record shared by Nadal and Roger Federer. Both of his old rivals will be waiting on the grass of the All-England Club.

Don’t for a moment think that seeing them in the draw will shake Djokovic. He once outlasted Nadal in a six-hour marathon to win the 2012 Australian Open. He has beaten Federer three times in Grand Slam events after fighting off two match points, including the 2019 Wimbledon final.

At Roland Garros, Djokovic taught tennis’ younger generation some lessons. He came roaring back from two sets behind to defeat 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti and then did the same thing to 22-year-old Tsitipas in the championship match. In between, those grind-it-out victories was the semifinal survival battle against Nadal, who has won the French 13 times.

History is on Djokovic’s side as he pursues the Grand Slam. He is defending champion at Wimbledon, a tournament he has won five times and he has prevailed on hard courts 12 times, including three U.S, Opens.

If he wins Wimbledon, he will tie Nadal and Federer with 20 Grand Slam titles. If he wins Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, he will become only the third man to complete the Grand Slam, and the first in more than 50 years, joining Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969).

And if he wins gold at Tokyo, well that would make it a most interesting summer, indeed.

About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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