April 4, 2016
Is this evidence that Novak Djokovic is becoming greater than Roger Federer?
The Serb’s 6-3, 6-3 triumph over Kei Nishikori, to take the Miami title a record-equalling sixth time, created another stunning landmark.
Djokovic has now surpassed the Fed in ATP prize money earned, reaching a mind-boggling total of $98.2 million (£69 million)…and counting.
Victoria Azarenka also goes from strength to strength after seeing off 30-year-old Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-2 to take her third Miami title – or “Miami Thrice” to fans of a certain cult TV show.
Both Novak and Vika won Indian Wells too – and to take those titles back-to-back is no easy thing to do.
But the main talk in tennis is of Djokovic, what he has achieved already, and what legacy he will leave by the time he ends an increasingly dominant career.
Federer is still “King of the Slams” with 17, though one wonders whether he will ever add to that total, despite many valiant attempts in recent years.
Djokovic is way back on 11 Grand Slam titles and he hasn’t even completed a Career Slam yet, with the French Open so far proving elusive.
Federer fans will therefore claim that the most popular player in the world is still the best there has ever been.
Can Djokovic catch him? Novak is 29 next month. But if he maintains current form, he is likely to take three out of four Slams for the next year or two, such is the fear he seems to have instilled in his opponents, including the magnificent Federer.
So there is every chance, working on that recent 75% Slam success rate, that Djokovic could equal Federer’s total of 17 by the end of the Australian Open in 2018. Novak will still be 30 and capable of winning Slams for another couple of years at least, after that.
Of course, this is all guesswork. Djokovic could suffer injury or a remarkable dip in form. Murray was hoping for the latter in Australia. It didn’t happen. There is no sign of Novak losing his hunger, as Indian Wells and Miami have just shown.
Will Djokovic ever be quite as loved as Federer, or even Rafael Nadal? Maybe not. Will he become the greatest of them all by the time he quits tennis? Probably.
This seems to be what is driving on Djokovic, when there might otherwise be nothing left to prove any more. Because for Novak, there is indeed still something left to prove.
When you want to be the best there has ever been, you don’t take your foot off the pedal. Not until your powers finally desert you.