Nikolay Davydenko believes Novak Djokovic has a great chance to close the gap in the all-time Grand Slam title race at the upcoming Wimbledon Championships. Djokovic is two behind Rafael Nadal's current record of 22 Grand Slam men's singles titles.
Speaking during a recent interview with CLAY, Davydenko said that while Djokovic will be keen to win a few more Majors, opportunities will keep getting lesser as the 35-year-old Serb further progresses in his career.
The current World No. 3 is set to take part in the upcoming Wimbledon Championships, while being a major doubt for the US Open due to rules around unvaccinated travelers to the United States.
"He [Novak Djokovic] is getting older now, it will be interesting, but I am sure he wants to win a few more Slams. He has a good chance in Wimbledon and at the US Open, provided that he plays. Depends on his preparation," Davydenko said.
The former Russian player does not see the Serbian playing until the age of 40 however.
"Next season, I don’t know – with every year, it gets harder when you get to a certain age. I don’t think he will play until he is 40 – to win Slams at 40, best of five, there is no chance, not possible," Davydenko said.
The former World No. 3 reminisced about an early encounter on the practice courts with a 17-year-old Novak Djokovic and said he saw a special spark in the Serbian right away.
During that warmup session, Italian coach Riccardo Piatti, who was working with Djokovic at the time, confidently stated to Davydenko that the Serb would be a top player in the future. Davydenko could not disagree with that sentiment.
"We were in Rome and he was my partner for the warmup before the match. I was surprised with the way he controlled the ball – I was hitting really good balls and each one came back. He moved really well too," Davydenko said.
"He was 16-17 years old at the time, he was working with Riccardo Piatti, and he told me: ‘Novak will be the next top player’. And I answered: ‘It seems so’. In two years, he was already in the top 10. Amazing – boom. And he is still there," Davydenko added.
The Russian also lauded all the coaches the 20-time Major champion has worked with over the years, who he believes have helped him grow in a big way.
"Novak always had a great team around him, which helped him to last at the top for so long," Davydenko said.
"Sometimes I don’t understand what’s in his head" - Nikolay Davydenko on Novak Djokovic's Australian Open controversy
Nikolay Davydenko also expressed his views on the controversy surrounding Novak Djokovic's 2022 Australian Open participation. The Serb was disallowed from playing the event and was deported from the country.
While Davydenko supported the nine-time Australian Open champion back then, he wasn't sure what the Serb was trying to do.
"I don’t understand what he tried to do. I did support him, but it was him against countries, him against the world. It doesn’t matter whether you are number one or whatever, but even before he landed, I had a feeling that he wouldn’t play there," Davydenko said.
"Sometimes I don’t understand what’s in his head. Normally, Serbs and Russians have the same mentality, but I feel that Novak is sometimes German, sometimes Italian," Davydenko added.
If the Serb is not allowed to play in the US Open later this year, he could end up missing two of the four Grand Slams this season, both on hard courts - his favorite surface. However, his immediate focus will be the Wimbledon Championships, where he is a six-time champion.
Djokovic is set to drop a number of ranking points at Wimbledon, regardless of the result, as the event carries no points this year.