Novak Djokovic is in his first finals in practically a year in a major milestone of his comeback from injury.
Novak Djokovic is having a terrific week. He achieved his momentous 801st ATP win, joining the top nine players in the history of the sport and tying Stefan Edberg, with his win over Jérémy Chardy on Saturday, 7-5(5), 6-4. This is a statistic that Roger Federer doesn’t own (yet) but sits second at 1,157, just shy of 100 behind Jimmy Connors (1,256). The great Ivan Lendl is right behind with 1,068, Rafael Nadal is in fifth with 903 (sure to be added to), and Djokovic’s former coach (and eight-time grand slam champ) Andre Agassi two spaces above Nole with 870.
Djokovic followed up this achievement by securing his spot in the finals of the Queens Club Championship, a lead up to the Wimbledon grand slam to take place in less than two weeks. He will face the current world No. 6 (and last year’s Wimbledon finalist) Marin Cilic.
“Every achievement is a great achievement. I should be happy for it and proud of it,” said Djokovic about the milestone.
“It’s obviously very positive and I’m thrilled. I’m grateful as I’m able to play so many matches and to win so many matches in my career.”
Last year’s Wimbledon tournament is what drove the 12-time grand slam champion to take time off to deal with his chronic elbow injury and recuperate. It’s been a difficult return to the game since he started back up at the beginning of the year, going out early in the hard court tournaments around the Australian Open and looking uncertain and unfit on the courts until about halfway into the clay season.
But what looked like a glimmer of hope at the Rome Masters event and Roland Garros—with the Serb making the semifinals and quarters—seems to have developed into the former number one authentically finding his grove during grass season. He applied for a wild card to play at Queens and now he’s one step away from achieving his first title of the year. This will surely give the three-time Wimbledon winner a significant confidence boost going into the grass grand slam in a few weeks.
“Sincerely when I came back after surgery, I thought that it’s not going to take me too long to build that momentum, but obviously it was proven to be otherwise,” said Djokovic after his semifinal win.
“It took me quite a few months to actually feel comfortable playing again on this level, back-to-back matches and playing consistently well.”
The last title Novak Djokovic won was at Eastbourne, where he defeated Gael Monfils in straight sets. Eastbourne occurs next week and Djokovic has said that he’s making decisions based on his fitness and deciding one event at a time. As of now, he’s not scheduled to play but he might want to play the tournament to build on his success at Queens and further develop momentum leading up to Wimbledon, where he last won in 2015.
Novak Djokovic has quietly stepped up his comeback game in the last few weeks and is now looking like one of the major contenders for a fourth Wimbledon title. The other contender is Roger Federer, of course, who is gunning for his record ninth (and possible 100th ATP title, if he wins in Halle), and is the reigning world No. 1.
Federer has found the answer to Nadal during his time off from the game. With Djokovic showing signs of his own resurgence, a matchup between these two at Wimbledon would be an enticing prospect.
It’s been two years since Novak Djokovic has won a grand slam and he’s clearly hungry to prove to himself that he can do it again.
Eastbourne is the next grass court tournament, starting on Monday. Wimbledon main draw begins July 2.