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Mats Wilander claims manner of Novak Djokovic's US Open defeat would have "broken" the spirit of past greats, says the Serb is "superhuman"

Novak Djokovic at the ATP Finals
Novak Djokovic at the ATP Finals
Stan
ANALYST

Mats Wilander recently heaped praise on Novak Djokovic, saying the Serb displayed immense mental strength to bounce back from his US Open defeat and win the Paris Masters.

The Swede reckons former greats, including himself, Bjorn Borg, and John McEnroe, would have struggled to regain confidence after losing such an important match in the manner in which Djokovic did.

Djokovic entered the US Open final needing a win to become the first man in more than 50 years to complete the Calendar Slam. However, a combination of pressure and fatigue resulted in the Serb playing one of his worst matches of the season and he ended up losing in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev.

Speaking to Eurosport, Wilander revealed that he thought Djokovic would not be the "same player ever again" after losing the match in such a fashion.

"There was a possibility in my mind that Novak Djokovic was not going to be the same player ever again after the US Open,” Wilander said. “Because he's 34 years old. He's pushing 35 and losing finals like that. It could break your confidence."
Novak Djokovic during the presentation ceremony after losing the 2021 US Open final
Novak Djokovic during the presentation ceremony after losing the 2021 US Open final

The seven-time Major champion stressed that such a defeat would have significantly dented the confidence of many former greats, including himself. However, seeing the way Djokovic bounced back at the Paris Masters, Wilander now feels the World No. 1 is "superhuman" and the greatest indoor player of all time.

"It (such a defeat) would have broken mine," Wilander added. "It would have broken John McEnroe's, it would have broken Bjorn Borg's, it would have broken a lot of players but not Novak Djokovic. He really is superhuman. And then we realized indoors, by far the best player of all time."

"I do think that there's a renewed confidence for Novak Djokovic and intimidation for the other players" - Mats Wilander

Novak Djokovic with his Rolex Paris Masters title
Novak Djokovic with his Rolex Paris Masters title

During the conversation with Eurosport, Mats Wilander asserted that Novak Djokovic is back to his best again. The 57-year-old pointed out that the Serb would be keen to establish himself as the top player in men's tennis for "as long as he plays".

“He's (Novak Djokovic) back,” Wilander said. “He's playing great again. So I think that he has his goals set on definitely being the best player in the world, but more importantly, being the best player in the world at the end of this year, being the best player in the world at the end of next year, and as long as he plays, he wants to be the best player in the world if you compare him to Roger [Federer] or Rafa [Nadal] or Rod Laver or Bjorn Borg."

Wilander believes Djokovic's title run at Paris-Bercy will provide a "confidence boost" for the World No. 1, while also sending a message to his rivals.

“I think it's a confidence boost for Novak, but for the other guys, it's more: ‘Hey, hold on here. I'm still the king and I'm still going to be the greatest player of all time, and I'm not done guys’," Wilander added. "So yes, I do think that there's a renewed confidence and intimidation for the other players.”

Also check out: Updated Tennis Schedule 2022


Edited by Arvind Sriram

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