Novak Djokovic claims winning Calendar Slam will be biggest achievement of his career, says he's "very inspired" to play his best tennis at US Open

Novak Djokovic believes pressure is a privilege.
Novak Djokovic believes pressure is a privilege.

Novak Djokovic believes winning the Calendar Grand Slam will be the biggest achievement of his career. The Serb reckons that while he will get chances to win more Slams in the future, he might not get another opportunity to win all four Majors in a calendar year.

Having already won the Australian Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon this year, Djokovic is just a US Open title away from becoming the first man in more than 50 years to achieve the Calendar Grand Slam.

If the Serb triumphs at Flushing Meadows, he will emulate Don Budge and Rod Laver, the only other men to have pulled off this feat.

While interacting with the media ahead of his US Open campaign, Djokovic was asked if winning the Calendar Slam would be the biggest achievement of his career. The Serb did not hesitate and quickly asserted that it would indeed be the case.

The 20-time Major champion also heaped praise on the Arthur Ashe Arena and expressed his eagerness to take the court.

"I think it's an easy question," Djokovic said. "Yes, it would be (his biggest achievement). Obviously I know how big of an opportunity is in front of me here in New York where historically I've played really well over the years. It's probably the most entertaining tennis court that we have. Crowd will be back in the stadium."
Novak Djokovic, after winning his 20th Slam at Wimbledon this year
Novak Djokovic, after winning his 20th Slam at Wimbledon this year

If Djokovic wins in New York, he will move past Federer and Nadal in the Grand Slam race for the first time in his career. But the Serb was quick to point out that it was not "now or never" for him at the US Open. Djokovic believes he will have more chances in the future to add to his Slam tally.

The Serb further said he does not wish to add any additional pressure on himself even though he believes he "thrives" in such situation.

"As I said, I'm very inspired to play my best tennis here," said Novak Djokovic. "I don't want to say it's now or never for me because I think I'm going to have more opportunities in my life to win Slams. I don't know if I'm going to be having more opportunities to win Calendar Slams. That's why it's a very unique opportunity. At the same time, I don't need to put any additional pressure to what I already have."
"But I thrive under pressure, as well," continued the Serb. "I've done that many times in my career. Pressure is a privilege, it truly is. This is what you work for day in, day out, all your life, to put yourself in a unique position to win Grand Slams and to make history. At the end of the day I'm a big tennis fan, fan of history. I admire this sport. I love it. I have this chance, and I'm going to try to use it."

Djokovic admitted he is "hugely inspired and motivated" by what is at stake for him. The Serb also acknowledged that all eyes would be on him during this fortnight, especially since two of his biggest rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, will not be seen in action.

"I'm hugely inspired and motivated," Djokovic said. "But at the same time I know how to balance things out mentally, with lots of expectations obviously around. My participation here, without Rafa and Roger participating, I feel it. I know there's a lot of people who are going to be watching my matches and expecting me to do well and fight for a Slam."

Djokovic believes Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev, and Stefanos Tsitsipas all stand a good chance of winning the US Open.

"At the same time, regardless of Roger's and Rafa's absence, you still have tremendous quality tennis players that are probably right now on hot streak, like Zverev, Medvedev, Tsitsipas, those are the three top contenders I see for the title," said the Serb.

Vaccination should be a personal decision: Novak Djokovic

During his press conference, Novak Djokovic was asked to give his thoughts on the ATP Tour's calls for more players to get vaccinated.

Djokovic, who has maintained that players should not be forced to get vaccinated, doubled down on his stance.

"Of course we all wish that we have every single tournament full capacity," Djokovic said. "But it seems like it's not yet possible. I mean, I'm not in a position, neither am I an expert, to debate what is the reason why we don't have everywhere full capacity, whether vaccines will help that or not."
"I feel like that should be always a personal decision, whether you want to get vaccinated or not," he added. "So I'm supportive of that. So whether someone wants to get a vaccine or not, that's completely up to them. I hope that it stays that way."

Edited by Arvind Sriram

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