Carlos Alcaraz has been given a reality check in his quest to continue winning Grand Slams and cement himself among the greatest players. Former player and top tennis coach Heinz Gunthardt claimed that Novak Djokovic would win at least three or four more Majors before he retired – continuing to break his own records and taking away the opportunity for Alcaraz and co to pick up big titles.
Djokovic made history this year as he lifted his 24th Grand Slam title at the US Open, having picked up his 22nd and 23rd trophies at the Australian Open and French Open. He became the first player in the Open Era – man or woman – to hold 24 Slams and tied Margaret Court’s all-time record.
And the world No 1 isn’t expected to stop at 24, as Gunthardt believes he has more left in him before he ultimately decides to hang up his racket. It will come as bad news to Alcaraz, who has been tipped as the man who could end Djokovic’s dominance and has already defeated the Serb in this year’s Wimbledon final.
“Three or four years is a very long period. I think he can take three or four more Grand Slams,” Gunthardt – Switzerland’s winning Billie Jean King Cup captain – told Alo. While he knew that it would get more challenging to win Majors as Djokovic got older, the 64-year-old cited one of Rafael Nadal’s heroic comebacks as an example that anything could happen.
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Gunthardt continued: “In the end, everything happens very quickly. If you see Nadal winning the Australian Open last year, it was one of the greatest achievements in the history of the sport. And to achieve something like that, it requires additional energy, which as an older player, you can no longer replace on a given day.”
The former coach of Steffi Graf also discussed some of the rising stars in men’s tennis, including Alcaraz. The Spaniard became the first teenage Grand Slam champion since Nadal back in 2005 when he won the US Open last year, also becoming the youngest world No 1 in ATP history.
“A few years ago, everyone said, ‘It’s impossible to be first in men’s tennis as a teenager. Tennis has become too strong a sport.’ And now? So it wasn’t impossible, we just didn’t have a real teenager,” he explained.
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“Now there is Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner and Luca van Assche. That’s the great thing about tennis, it’s elusive. Everyone thinks they know how things work, but no one does. Exceptional players don’t exist all the time, otherwise they wouldn’t be special. Sometimes you have a hole, but that doesn’t mean something is impossible. Even with my long presence in tennis I can say that I do not understand the sport.”
While Gunthardt thought the sport could be unpredictable, there was no denying that he thought Djokovic performing at the Grand Slams was a given. And by the estimations of the former world No 22, the Serb could end his career with 27 to 28 Major titles.
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