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Djokovic: Winning calendar Grand Slam would be greatest achievement

Novak Djokovic said claiming an elusive calendar Grand Slam would be the greatest achievement of his illustrious career, as the first round of the US Open in New York begins today with men’s tennis world number one Djokovic hoping to complete a calendar-year grand slam.

New York, 30 August 2021 (STATS Perform/dpa/MIA) — Novak Djokovic said claiming an elusive calendar Grand Slam would be the greatest achievement of his illustrious career, as the first round of the US Open in New York begins today with men’s tennis world number one Djokovic hoping to complete a calendar-year grand slam.

Djokovic can become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete the slam sweep if he wins the US Open, having already conquered the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon in 2021.

The world number one would be just the third man to win all four majors in the same year after Don Budge was the first to do so in in 1938 before Laver in 1962 and 1969.

Djokovic could also move clear of rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who will both miss the Flushing Meadows tournament due to injury, for the most men’s grand slam titles in history – the trio are level on 20.

Preparing for his first-round match against Holger Rune in New York, Djokovic – who missed out on a Golden Slam when he failed to win Olympic gold in Tokyo – told reporters: “I’m very inspired to play my best tennis here.

“I don’t want to say it’s now or never for me because I think I’m going to have more opportunities in my life to win Slams. I don’t know if I’m going to be having more opportunities to win calendar Slams.

“That’s why it’s a very unique opportunity. At the same time, I don’t need to put any additional pressure to what I already have, which is pretty big from my own self and from of course people around me.

“But I thrive under pressure, as well. I’ve done that many times in my career. Pressure is a privilege, it truly is. This is what you work for day-in, day-out, all your life, to put yourself in a unique position to win Grand Slams and to make history. At the end of the day, I’m a big tennis fan, [a] fan of history. I admire this sport. I love it. I have this chance, and I’m going to try to use it.”

A three-time US Open champion, the 34-year-old Djokovic owns a 75-12 record at the slam in the United States.

It will be Djokovic’s first time back at Flushing Meadows since he was sensationally defaulted from last year’s US Open after hitting a linesperson with the ball during his fourth-round match against Pablo Carreno Busta.

“Obviously I know how big of an opportunity is in front of me here in New York, where historically I’ve played really well over the years. It’s probably the most entertaining tennis court that we have. [The] crowd will be back [in the] stadium,” Djokovic said.

“I can’t wait. Honestly I’m very motivated to play my best tennis. But I have to hit one ball at a time, try to be in the moment, have a guiding star in a way, a dream to win a Slam here, which would obviously complete the calendar Slam.

“I’m hugely inspired and motivated by that, no doubt. But at the same time, I know how to balance things out mentally, with lots of expectations around. My participation here, without Rafa and Roger participating, I feel it. I know there are a lot of people who are going to be watching my matches and expecting me to do well and fight for a Slam.”

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