Novak Djokovic has played the game better than anyone ever has, says Todd Martin
- Todd Martin believes Novak Djokovic's peak level is higher than anyone else in history - including Roger Federer.
- Martin also observed that Djokovic's mental toughness sets him apart from other players.
Many believe Novak Djokovic is presently behind Federer and Nadal in the race for the GOAT - the eternal debate that splits the tennis world like nothing else. But Martin, a two-time Slam finalist and current CEO of the International Hall of Fame, believes that Djokovic has all the attributes to ultimately be recognized as the greatest player to have ever played the sport.
In the interview with Kevin Palmer, Martin suggested that Novak Djokovic's peak level is higher than that of any other player in history - including Roger Federer.
“Roger is the most aesthetically pleasing I have ever seen. For me though, if Novak is right, if Novak is confident and comfortable with his physical status and is really focused, I’ve never seen anybody more unbeatable. This guy has played the game better than anyone else ever has, in my opinion."
Novak Djokovic's Grand Slam dominance since the 2010s
Martin's observations about Novak Djokovic are not without reason. The Serb, who is the youngest of the Big 3 troika, has fared better than Federer and Nadal in Grand Slams over the last few years.
Since the start of the 2010s decade, Novak Djokovic has won a whopping 16 Grand Slams. The corresponding numbers for Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, meanwhile, are 13 and 5 respectively.
Novak Djokovic won his 17th Grand Slam title at the 2020 Australian Open, beating Dominic Thiem in the final. The Serb was 18-0 for the season before the ATP announced the suspension of the tour until 13 July because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Novak Djokovic is within three Slams of all-time title holder Roger Federer (20), and just two short of second-placed Rafael Nadal.
Despite his undeniable dominance, Novak Djokovic still trails his Big 3 peers in terms of crowd support. But Martin believes, just like Ivan Lendl, that Djokovic's place in the tennis hierarchy is unaffected by his relative lack of popularity.
"“One of the beauties of life is that life is not fair," Martin said. "Novak is the third wheel from a public adoration standpoint. But his achievements have proved that he is no third wheel from a capability standpoint.”
Novak Djokovic can win even when he isn't playing great: Todd Martin
Martin, who coached Novak Djokovic between 2009 and 2010, noted that the Serb's athleticism and return of serve are so much better than everyone else's that any comparison is futile.
"“His athleticism is from another world. His return of serve is way better than any other return of serve ever and I mean way better. Nobody has gotten so many balls back and neutralized so many good serves."
Martin also added that Novak Djokovic's mental toughness sets him apart from the rest of the tour. Even when he does not bring his A-game to the court, Djokovic's fighting spirit sees him through.
"“Having worked with him, when he is focused he has that 'I’m going through a brick wall' mentality. Now he is not always focused, but when he is and we have seen this for long stretches, he doesn’t have to play great. He is that much of a fighter and thrives on it.”