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Djokovic won't say he's the GOAT after 23rd slam win

Novak Djokovic poses with his record-breaking trophy. Picture: Christophe Ena

Novak Djokovic has refused to invest himself with the title of men's tennis GOAT - the Greatest-of-All-Time - despite winning his record-breaking 23rd grand slam title at the French Open.

If the debate about the best-ever man to wield a tennis racquet came down to statistics alone, his status as the greatest would already be decided following his straight-sets Roland Garros victory over Casper Ruud on Sunday.

The Serb won 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 7-5 to eclipse Rafael Nadal's mark of 22 grand slam titles and extend his advantage over the now-retired Roger Federer, who won 20 majors.

"I don't want to say that I'm the greatest," Djokovic told reporters.

"It's disrespectful towards great champions in other eras. Each great champion of his generation has left a huge mark and paved the way."

Nerves had got the better of him the last time he played for the outright slam lead at the US Open back in 2021 and he lost to Daniil Medvedev.

He also made a nervous start here, going 3-0 down, but Norwegian Ruud lost his break in the seventh game and the tiebreak was again where Djokovic really stepped up - in six tiebreaks in Paris, he did not make a single unforced error.

It was another demonstration that his biggest strength is being able to peak when it really matters, both within matches and during the season. 

The 36-year-old won his first grand slam title in 2008 when Federer had already claimed 13 of his 20 crowns and Nadal's era of unprecedented dominance was underway on the Parisian clay with the Spaniard primed to make inroads on the other surfaces.

Djokovic has only gotten better with age and his victory over Ruud extended his win-loss record in Grand Slam finals in his 30s to 11-2.

And as he stood proudly at the pinnacle, Djokovic then warned his rivals there is plenty more still to come.

""I feel incredibly proud, fulfilled. Of course the journey is still not over. I feel, if I'm winning slams, why even think about ending the career that already has been going on for 20 years?

"I still feel motivated, I still feel inspired to play the best tennis at these tournaments the most. I look forward already to Wimbledon."

The Serbian also becomes the first man ever to win at least three slam titles at all the major tournaments - a measure of his all-round greatness - while he will overtake Carlos Alcaraz, his semi-final victim, on Monday to return to world No.1.

The Serbian's coach Goran Ivanisevic said he hoped Nadal could return and win another major but had no doubt Djokovic had more titles in him to stay ahead with the calendar slam now a real possibility.

"I'm really sorry Rafa is not here, but I said a long time ago, before even I became member of Djokovic's team that him and Rafa, they're going to go over 22," Ivanisevic said.

"I'm hoping Rafa comes back and wins one more and Novak is the only player who can win a calendar grand slam. He was one match away two years ago, so he has a chance this year.

"It's still a long way, but grand slams are the goal now. I don't know how many, but he has in his body a lot more."


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