The great Rod Laver has led the tennis world’s tributes to Novak Djokovic after the latest Australian Open triumph for the world No.1, hailing the victory as “Sublime 9!”.
The 82-year-old Australian legend loved what he saw of Djokovic’s grace under pressure, suggesting that he had stamped his will on Russian Daniil Medvedev in the one-sided final at Melbourne Park.
“Brilliant work on another Australian title @DjokerNole, under so much pressure in such difficult times,” Laver tweeted.
“You continue to show the world what a great champion you are. There was no doubt in your mind tonight – Daniil felt the full force of your will. Sublime 9!”
Like Laver, another three-time Australian Open champion, Mats Wilander was left purring over the quality of Djokovic’s win, calling it a “perfect” performance.
Talking on Eurosport, the Swede explained how impressed had been with the way Djokovic had battled through his injury concerns earlier in the tournament.
“He was saying, ‘I’m not perfect but I’m here’ but today and in the semis, he was perfect, with the way he played and physically as well,” Wilander said.
“It was an incredible performance. He just got better and better, he wins points so many different ways.
“He’s just so complete these days, he can hit those little drop shots, he can come to the net, he’s got choices.”
Wilander felt Djokovic had made his point to the ‘next gen’ that he’s still keeping at bay.
“That’s a huge statement to them, to us, to the whole world,” Wilander said.
“It looks as difficult to beat him here in the Australian Open as it is to beat Rafa (Nadal) at Roland Garros and it shouldn’t be because it’s a much faster court.
“It should be much more difficult but he looks so solid, so confident and once he gets into the lead I don’t know what you have to do to beat him.”
As the praise poured in on social media, Australia’s Wimbledon champion Pat Cash felt it wouldn’t be long before Medvedev won a grand slam but also tweeted: “Wow….Novak rock solid again, didn’t think he would take Medvedev apart like that.”
Andy Roddick, the 2003 US Open champion, tweeted: “Djoker is so good. He’s routined great great players at Aussie Open over the years.
“There is nowhere to attack him on the court. It’s like not being able to hit a boxer, but that boxer also has knockout power in both hands. Props.”
‘Three knights of tennis’
Djokovic promised that as long as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer keep adorning the sport, he’ll be duelling with them as the “three knights of tennis”.
And fresh from seeing his charge win his 18th grand slam, Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic reckons he can see no end in sight to the sporting wonders being perpetrated by the “unbelievable” trio.
After outplaying Daniil Medvedev in Sunday’s final, Djokovic laughed that his pre-match prediction about the ‘big three’ not being about to make way for the next generation had been “risky”.
But he was convinced his 18th grand slam was down to the inspiration he keeps taking from his race with Nadal and Federer, who both have 20 apiece.
Such was the 7-5 6-2 6-2 hammering that Medvedev took that the Russian was moved to call them – affectionately, he insisted – as “cyborgs of tennis”.
Asked what he’d call them, Djokovic couldn’t help smiling as he suggested “The Three Knights of Tennis” – a title that’s inevitably bound to stick now.
“I don’t know how else I would describe the three of us,” said Djokovic.
“Roger and Rafa inspire me. I’ll say it again. I mean, I think as long as they go, I’ll go!