Djokovic seeks next step toward Golden Slam

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June 25, 2016
Serbia's Novak Djokovic clenches his fist as he plays Austria's Dominic Thiem during their semifinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium, Friday, June 3 in Paris. Djokovic aims to win all the majors in one year when he goes for the Wimbledon title this week. (AP Photo)

LONDON (AP):

Novak Djokovic has accomplished so much in his career and, indeed, already this year.

He owns 12 Grand Slam singles titles, a total eclipsed by only three men in the long history of tennis. He has won four consecutive major tournaments, something only two other men ever did. He leads the tour in wins (44-3 record) and titles (six) in 2016.

Now, with Wimbledon starting Monday, there is something more for Djokovic to pursue, something never achieved by a man and only once by a woman: a Golden Slam, consisting of winning all four major singles titles, plus an Olympic singles gold medal, in one season. As it is, Djokovic is halfway to a true Grand Slam, collecting championships on the hard courts of the Australian Open in January, then the red clay of the French Open earlier this month.

Among men, only Don Budge in 1938, and Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969, managed to win all four Grand Slam tournaments within a calendar year (none of those were Summer Games years and, anyway, tennis was not part of the Olympics in those days).

"There's going to be a lot of pressure on him," Laver said about Djokovic, adding: "For me, I think it's very possible he can pull it off."

When he won his first French Open title this month to become the first man since Jim Courier in 1992 to even get halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam, Djokovic certainly did not try to play down the possibility of equalling Laver's achievement.

"Well, I don't want to sound arrogant," Djokovic said after extending his Grand Slam winning streak to 28 matches, "but I really think everything is achievable in life."

Why shouldn't he feel that way?

At 29, he is probably at his peak, as close to unbeatable as there is these days, possessing the best return of serve in the game, an unparalleled ability to contort his body and track down opponents' apparent winners while going from defence to offence in a blink, and an improving serve.

And from match to match, surface to surface, Djokovic rarely wavers.

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