Novak Djokovic ‘needs’ two Grand Slams in 2021 to beat Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal | Tennis | Sport

Novak Djokovic is in need of “at least” two Grand Slam triumphs in 2021 if he wants to usurp Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and end with the most majors of all time, believes Greg Rusedski. Djokovic is three Slams behind his two long-time rivals having failed to add to his Australian Open triumph this year.

The Serbian world No 1 ended the year as the top-ranked player for the sixth time in his career and equals Pete Sampras’ record by doing so.

But his 2020 ended in disappointing fashion, being beaten at the ATP Finals by Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals.

Djokovic had also headed to the season-ending tournament in London off the back of disappointment at the US Open, where he was defaulted, and the French Open, when he was thrashed by Nadal in the final.

Wimbledon, meanwhile, was cancelled altogether because of the coronavirus pandemic to leave Djokovic trailing behind Nadal and Federer.

The 33-year-old also suffered the joint-heaviest defeat of his career towards 2020 against Lorenzo Sonego at the Vienna Open.

Though he still ended the year top of the rankings thanks to his triumph in Melbourne when he got the better of Thiem in five thrilling sets.

And former British No 1 Rusedski believes looking ahead to 2021, when Federer will return from injury to offer extra competition at the majors, Djokovic needs to be triumphant at two of the four two-week tournaments in the ultimate battle to end up with the most Grand Slam triumphs.

Nadal is widely expected to win a 14th Roland Garros title next year having comfortably defeated Djokovic in straight sets in October, which would take him to 21 Slams.

And having only won one of three in 2020, that would leave Djokovic needing to win the Australian Open again just to stay three behind the ‘King of Clay’.

“I think he will [surpass Sampras’ record for most year-end No 1s and Federer’s record for most weeks as No 1] but the only guy I’m thinking is that Nadal might have more Slams than him,” Rusedski told Express Sport.

“Djokovic is going to surpass Federer, he won’t have the most wins or the most titles but he will surpass him for most Grand Slam titles.

“I think the battle is between two guys. Not winning that US Open, that would’ve taken him to 18 instead of 17 and now Nadal, you’ve got to give him the French unless [Dominic] Thiem can knock him off his pedestal in Paris.

“That’s the only guy who can beat him in my opinion there. He needs two Slams next year at least, or three.

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“It becomes fascinating, there’s so many curveballs. The next generation of guys are sick of this big three!”

Former British No 1 Rusedski does not believe that Federer will be a threat to Djokovic in Melbourne however at the rescheduled Australian Open, which takes place in February.

Federer has recently started training in Dubai as he bids to be fully fit for the first Slam of the New Year.

Rusedski added of the Swiss icon: “I don’t think he’s got a shot to win the Australian Open or the French, those will be big asks for him. He can still have good runs there but won’t win them.

“Wimbledon, that’s where he’s aiming at. He’s won eight titles there. The points against Novak, that must be the most heartbreaking loss of his career.

“[If he wins that] All of a sudden that takes him to 21 and leaves Djokovic right now at 16 and he’s still ahead in the race over Nadal.

“One match or one point can make such a big difference to somebody’s career – trust me I know about these things!”

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