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Novak Djokovic has revealed he is inspired by Michael Jordan as he seeks to make another comeback from adversity in the USA in March. The Serbian superstar won his 22nd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open to equal the male all-time singles record held by Rafa Nadal.
The two legends will next go head-to-head in the GOAT race at the French Open in June. The new world No 1, who was deported from Down Under last January, now has a perfect 10 wins in finals in Melbourne Park – and is unbeaten in 28 consecutive matches since his last defeat here in 2018.
Nick Kyrgios tweeted “we created a monster” in reference to the Aussies booting out Djokovic last year as he predicted the Wimbledon champion would win 28 Grand Slams. Djokovic, often regarded as a robotic winner, showed his raw emotions after a Major tournament he started with a hamstring injury and ended with his father Srdjan not watching in the stadium.
“I am glad that I am winning enough that people think I have forgotten how to lose,” he said. “But trust me, no-one likes to lose but you have to lose.
“I have lost a lot of matches, a lot of tough ones, finals of Grand Slams where I should have won but I didn’t. But as Michael Jordan used to say, people only remember the good times.
“I failed, I failed, I failed and that is why I succeeded in the end.” One of NBA legend Jordan’s most famous quotes is: “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Djokovic has also returned to world No 1 for the first time since last June. He is scheduled to play in Dubai next month but he still cannot enter the USA with the requirement to be vaccinated still in place until April. The Masters events in Indian Wells and Miami are in March.
Djokovic, who missed the US Open because of his refusal to be vaccinated, said: “I hope I can play in Indian Wells. That is my wish. It is still not allowed but maybe in the next few weeks I will get better news.”
The USA is one of only five countries in the world – along with Pakistan, Yemen, Indonesia and Myanmar – to still require proof of vaccine to enter.
Djokovic and Nadal have now won 16 of the last 19 Grand Slams and the Serb warned the next generation: “We are still not going anywhere.”
And his coach Goran Ivanisevic insisted Djokovic, who turns 36 in May, can compete at the top level for “definitely two, three more years” but claimed Nadal would win the French Open in June. The Croat said: “Last year was not easy.
“Nothing is easy. But he’s the same like if you are the football coach of Real Madrid, you need to have the pressure. If you don’t win one, two games, you get fired.
“He’s getting crazier and crazier, in a positive way. The guy is unbelievable. This was Novak’s home court, and now we are going next to Rafa’s home court.
“If Rafa steps on the court at the French Open, for me he’s always the favourite to win the tournament. He’s won 14 times. It’s amazing. They really push each other.
“We talk about the young guys who are great for the future of tennis. But you still have these two guys battling. Battle of Spain against Serbia, it’s like a handball match. 22-22 for the moment. Now it’s going to be interesting this year.”
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