17-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic could benefit from this extended tennis break due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to 16-time GS doubles winner and current Australian pundit Todd Woodbridge.
Djokovic has enjoyed red-hot form in recent months, remaining unbeaten with an impressive 18 victories to start 2020 – while winning the Australian Open on February 2, after a five-set thriller against Dominic Thiem.
His latest win was against the last man to beat him, world number six Stefanos Tsitsipas, back on February 29. Since then, the coronavirus has continued spreading rapidly worldwide and forced all sport to be postponed indefinitely.
Players were already preparing in Indian Wells, when the organisers cancelled the tournament just days beforehand, last month. Things haven’t improved since, with the French Open being rescheduled while the grass-court season has been cancelled entirely.
It means the forced break in play could last much longer than previously hoped, especially with the virus situation unlikely to improve over the coming months.
Although it’s only the start of April, it’s harder to imagine no more tennis until 2021 due to health concerns, though risks are significant – for players, fans and staff worldwide.
Djokovic could have equalled Roger Federer’s 20-Slam record, had he swept the remaining three Grand Slam tournaments up for grabs this year. The pair, alongside Rafael Nadal (33), remain the sport’s leading athletes on the ATP Tour.
However, the Serbian turns 33 next month and Todd Woodbridge assumes he’ll remain the man to beat once this interval comes to an end. It’s a contrasting opinion to seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander, who claimed he’s “the big loser” to this virus.
As quoted by Tennis World USA, the 48-year-old said:
“For Novak, it may come at a good time in his career to actually rejuvenate him again, give him another big burst. So if anything, this period helps him most.
I think from here, this will be a line in the sand in terms of records – we had all the achievements from the amateur days, the Open era ones and the new line post-2020. It will have changed the history books in the long run when we do get back and playing again, for sure.”
Only time will tell, as there are a number of talented youngsters keen to prove themselves as the players capable of surpassing the Big Three sooner rather than later.