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Novak Djokovic and Goran Ivanisevic discuss future goals after winning 18th Grand Slam title despite ab injury

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Djokovic is chasing history (Picture: Icon Sportswire via Getty)

Novak Djokovic confirmed he did win the Australian Open with a torn abdominal muscle as he and his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, outlined his goals for 2021 and beyond.

Djokovic, now a nine-time Australian Open champion and 18-time Grand Slam winner, has made no secret of his desire to eclipse Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s 20-strong majors haul – but will he go even further?

Ivanisevic believes Nadal will win at least one or two more French Opens, which, if the latter, would take his total up to 22 Slams. That would mean Djokovic needs to equal Serena Williams’s Open Era record of 23 majors to finish top of the men’s pile.

The divisive Margaret Court holds the overall Slam record and Ivanisevic wouldn’t rule out Djokovic and Nadal surpassing that figure.

‘You don’t know where is the end of these guys. This is a good question,’ said the former Wimbledon champion. ‘They are unbelievable. They surprise me every day. Rafa for sure is going to win one, I hope not two, but I give him one. Who knows.

‘They’re unbelievable. They producing better and better tennis. Every time when you think they gone, the young guns are coming, they are here but these guys are better, one step better in the finals.



Most Grand Slam titles (men and women)

24 – Margaret Court
23 – Serena Williams
22 – Stefi Graf
20 – Roger Federer
20 – Rafael Nadal
19 – Helen Wills Moody
18 – Martina Navratilova
18 – Chris Evert
18 – Novak Djokovic

‘I don’t know where is the end. Maybe they’re going to overpass Margaret Court and Serena, maybe not. But it’s amazing what they doing on the court. It’s amazing how they perform on the big matches. I’m waiting for Roger to come back. It’s going to be more interesting to see what’s going to happen in French and Wimbledon.

‘Is just great. The race is there. Who knows. I said couple years ago Rafa and Novak, they going to overtake Roger, both of them. I still believe that. I still think so.’

Djokovic, 33, is already guaranteed to break Federer’s record for the most weeks spent as the world No. 1 and addressed his goals.

‘Now, after achieving the historic No. 1 for the longest weeks at No. 1, it’s going to be a relief for me because I’m going to focus all my attention on Slams mostly,’ said Djokovic.

‘When you are going for No. 1 rankings, you kind of have to be playing the entire season and you have to be playing well, you have to play all the tournaments.

‘My goals will adapt and will shift a little bit, which means that I will have to adjust also my calendar – not have to, but I will have an opportunity to do that which, as a father and a husband, I’m really looking forward to that.

‘Judging by what we’re seeing around the world, having family on the road with me will be a very difficult task, because if I’m going to travel around, I have to take my coaches and everything, and we have rules in place that don’t allow really more people than I think two people on the tournaments to travel with you, other than slams.’

Last season, Djokovic declared he planned to go a season unbeaten – a run that was stunningly ended by him being disqualified at the US Open – but wouldn’t quite go that far this time around.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates with coach Goran Ivanisevic after beating Russia's Daniil Medvedev to win their men's singles final match on day fourteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 21, 2021.

Ivanisevic helped Djokovic achive his goal (Picture: AFP via Getty)

He did, however, acknowledge he would keep looking to make history and admitted he’s motivated by breaking as many records as he can.

‘Look, I don’t plan to go unbeaten the whole year. I’m not thinking about that. But I certainly want to win every match that I play. So I hope that answers the question in a way,’ he added.

‘In terms of calculating the amount of Slams that Rafa predicting might win French or somewhere else, myself, getting closer to maybe Roger’s, Rafa’s record, Serena, Margaret…

‘Look, everyone has their own journey and their own way of making history. They’ve made history already. They made a tremendous mark in our sport. I’m trying to build that and develop that myself in a very unique, authentic way that is suitable to me.

‘Whether I think about winning more Slams and breaking records, of course. Of course, I do. And most of my attention and my energy from this day forward, until I retire from tennis, is going to be directed in majors, trying to win more major trophies.’

Djokovic’s revelation that he did tear a muscle in his five-set win against Taylor Fritz makes this latest victory even more remarkable.

‘It is a tear, a muscle tear, of the abdominal oblique muscle,’ said Djokovic.

‘I felt it right away when it happened against Fritz in the third round. That’s what I said in the post-match interview. I was kind of guessing, but I felt just that it’s a tear because of the snap and the way I felt after that.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia holds the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup as he celebrates victory in his Men’s Singles Final match against Daniil Medvedev of Russia during day 14 of the 2021 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on February 21, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia.  (

Djokovic won a ninth Australian Open title (Picture: Getty)

‘I know there’s been a lot of speculations, people questioning whether I’m injured, how can I recover so quickly, it’s impossible to do that. I get it. I mean, look, everyone is entitled for their own opinion, and everybody has the freedom and the right to say what they want, criticise others. I just felt like it was a bit unfair at times. But, hey, it’s not the first nor the last time.

‘What we have done in the past nine, ten days, you’ll get a chance to see in details probably end of this year when the documentary comes out. I’ve been filming a lot of things that I’ve been doing here, but also in the previous months, six months.

‘We’re planning to take that documentary out end of this year. You will be able to see more of the routine of recovery, stuff that was going on behind the curtain.’

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