Tennis: Tennis-‘GOAT’ debate motivates Djokovic but doesn’t hold sway


(Reuters) – The debate over the greatest men’s tennis player ever is a constant topic for Novak Djokovic but while the top-ranked Serbian takes inspiration from it, he does not allow the discussions to derail his single-minded quest for glory.

The “GOAT” (Greatest of all Time) debate has divided opinions for a decade and remains a hot topic as the trio of Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal continue to dominate the field despite the challenge from the younger generation.

Djokovic has already claimed Federer’s long-standing record for holding the men’s world No.1 ranking for most weeks and a sixth Wimbledon triumph on Sunday will see him level with his two great rivals on 20 Grand Slam titles each.

He has already won the first two majors of the year and titles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Tokyo Olympics would give him the Golden Slam and settle the GOAT debate once and for all by the end of the year.

“I don’t really allow myself too much to think about that, to be quite frank with you,” Djokovic told reporters after reaching the Wimbledon quarter-finals on Monday.

“I feel privileged, as I said, and honoured. Of course very happy to be in this position to make history of the sport.

“At the same time I need to go about my everyday routines and everyday life on the tour pretty much the same way that I feel has reaped a lot of success for me.”

Djokovic on Monday reached his 50th quarter-final at Grand Slams and only Federer has made it to the last-eight stage of the majors more times.

The Serbian – the youngest of the ‘Big Three’ of men’s tennis at 34 – has made it clear that his only motivation and goal going forward is to win more Grand Slam titles.

“If I start giving away my attention and energy to these speculations and discussions and debates, I feel like it’s going to derail me from what I feel is the priority at this moment for me which is to… prepare the best that I possibly can be prepared for the final stages of Grand Slams,” he said.

“They are a motivating factor but they are not consuming my everyday life. I’m trying to balance things out as well for me.

“Of course, it’s soothing to my ears and my ego, as well, that someone thinks of me that greatly. To be in that conversation is obviously an honour.

“At the same time I just have to always work on getting my attention to the right things. I feel like that’s the right way to go.”

Djokovic faces unseeded Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in the last eight.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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