Daria Kasatkina has no problem playing grand slams behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic, while the former world number 10 talked up the possibility of an ATP-WTA Tour merger.

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc globally, with the WTA Tour suspended since March and not expected to return until August at the earliest.

The French Open has been pushed back to September and the US Open is still scheduled to go ahead, with Wimbledon cancelled for the first time since World War II.

Events are set to be staged without fans when tennis returns, though French Open organisers remain hopeful spectators will be able to attend the rearranged slam at Roland Garros.

World number 12 and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova said she would rather see majors cancelled than be held without fans, but Kasatkina has no issue with a spectator-less slam.

"It's going to be completely different, especially at grand slams and in night sessions on the big courts, it will lose its energy," 2018 French Open and Wimbledon quarter-finalist Kasatkina told Stats Perform News.

"At the same time, at least if we can play the tournament without spectators, for me it's fine. Yes it's different but to play a tournament and gram slam, it doesn't matter spectators or no spectators. As I think Marin Cilic said, it will be different to win a grand slam like the US Open without spectators there, which is true. At least it will be very special and it will stay in the history forever.

"For the moment, Roland Garros looks very positive. If we see how it goes and it keeps like that, I think Roland Garros will happen and they want to do it with spectators, which is really good. It's different to play with spectators, that's for sure.

"The US Open, of course everyone wants to play and I wish to play the US Open – it's such a special tournament – but I'm not that sure because the situation in the United States is still shaky. The main thing is travelling. If it's going to happen, it's going to be very good. I'll be very happy."

The re-arranged French Open in Paris could provide headaches for players, with the clay-court slam set to take place a week after the final of the US Open on hard courts in New York.

"It's going to be an interesting experience, especially to change the surface and the time so much," the Russian said. "At least between Roland Garros and Wimbledon there is one month, but at least it's in one part of the world. If it's like this, players have to accept it. I'll be happy, even if it's going to be like this.

"When we were juniors and just starting to play professional tournaments, we'd play one tournament there on clay and another here and there. For sure, for some players it will be tough and for many players with injuries it will be a little bit dangerous but I hope everything will be okay."

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, talk of an ATP-WTA merger has emerged – a tweet from 20-time slam champion Roger Federer backing a unified tennis tour sparking the discussions.

Asked about the possibility of the ATP and WTA joining forces, two-time tournament winner Kasatkina said: "I think it would be good to work together because it's much easier to do something with one structure than two structures like the situation we have now. It's easier to promote tennis as a big tour, not like men's or women's tennis.

"I was a little bit surprised because I never thought they were talking about this, I didn't hear anything. So, it was a little bit surprising especially from Roger Federer on Twitter. But I think it's a good idea. Why not be together? It's better."

The coronavirus-enforced break has provided Kasatkina with plenty of time to reflect and recharge, having struggled in 2019 after her breakout season in 2018.

Kasatkina burst onto the scene two years ago by reaching the French Open and Wimbledon quarter-finals before eventually losing to finalists Sloane Stephens and Angelique Kerber, while she also faced Naomi Osaka in the 2018 Indian Wells decider.

However, Kasatkina endured a frustrating 2019 campaign – only progressing beyond the opening round of a slam once last year, at the French Open, and dropping to 66th in the world rankings. There were, though, signs that the 23-year-old was returning to her best prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

Kasatkina reached the last four of the Lyon Open in March, her first WTA semi-final since claiming the Kremlin Cup in October 2018.

"I had a lot of expectations for myself and not only me but the people around after my very successful year in 2018, which I wasn't ready for, especially mentally," Kasatkina, who has become somewhat of a social media queen during the tennis hiatus, said.

"After this, my game fell apart little bit because you have no confidence in your head, there's no confidence in your shots. Rankings drop down as well because I was losing matches.

"I spoke with my coach and many things happened. I was pretty lost at that time but I think that helped me a lot to rebuild my confidence, rebuild my game maybe to change something.

"I think I started the year, not in Australia [first round], but after it better in Lyon. I really felt like I was building up my game again and I'm hungry to play the tournaments and win. Because I finally taste this semi-final, this special tournament. When I came to Indian Wells, I was feeling perfect in the practices. I really felt that if there wasn't the situation with coronavirus, maybe that was the point I could really start again.

"What happened, happened. Now I have the time for myself to maybe think a bit more, to work on the things which I'll probably need when the season starts again. Everything is going the way it should be."

Since losing 6-3 6-2 to Osaka in the 2018 Paribas Open final, Kasatkina has watched the Japanese star go on to win the US Open and Australian Open. Is it a motivation for the right-hander?

"Well after that final and during the tournament, of course I felt I was close to a very high level of tennis," Kasatkina continued. "I showed some good results and finished top 10, which was very positive at the time but maybe a little bit early. After the final, I felt like okay it seems like I have something inside that can bring me higher. But mentally, I wasn't ready."

Kasatkina, who believes she was close to rediscovering her 2018 form before the pandemic, believes the enforced break has been beneficial.

"For sure because for the past season, it was really tough," she added when asked about her time away from the sport. "Maybe it was good I had this time to come down a little bit and live a normal life. Not to rush to every tournaments, tournament by tournament, week by week."

Elite sport is gradually returning to our screens amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany's Bundesliga, the UFC and the NRL were among the first top-level events to forge a route back last month after pausing due to the global crisis.

A clutch of Europe's other top football leagues, cricket, motorsport and the United States' major competitions all have designs on behind-closed-doors resumptions in the near future, too, which could create a significant backlog of crucial fixtures.

One positive is that sports fans might now be treated to a number of colossal match-ups back-to-back on the same day at some point over the coming months.

That prospect gives us the opportunity to reflect on five similar occasions with the greatest sporting days since the turn of the century - including one exactly a year ago.

 

JULY 23, 2000

The US had a day to remember as two of their most prominent stars bolstered their still burgeoning reputations with big victories on foreign soil.

The paths of Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong have subsequently diverged a little, however.

Woods became the youngest player to complete golf's career grand slam with a record-breaking victory at The Open in 2000, while Armstrong wrapped up a second straight Tour de France title.

The American duo stood at the top of the world, yet history will recall Armstrong's achievements rather differently now he has been stripped of each of his seven successive yellow jerseys for doping.

Woods at least maintained his high standards and held all four major titles after the 2001 Masters, winning again at Augusta as recently as last year.

FEBRUARY 1, 2004

Two more sporting greats shared the same special page in the calendar early in 2004.

It was a long day for anyone who took in both Roger Federer's performance in Melbourne's Australian Open final and Tom Brady's Super Bowl display in Houston, but they were duly rewarded.

Twenty-time grand slam champion Federer had won just one major before facing down Marat Safin in Australia, also becoming the ATP Tour's top-ranked player for the first time. He stayed at number one for a record-shattering 237 weeks.

Brady similarly then doubled his tally of Super Bowl rings by delivering a second triumph in three years for the Patriots, in what was a classic encounter against the Carolina Panthers.

Brady threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns, before Adam Vinatieri's field goal secured a 32-29 win with four seconds remaining.

AUGUST 4-5, 2012

One would struggle to find a greater array of star-studded athletes of various sports than those who congregated in London across the penultimate weekend of the 2012 Olympic Games.

On the Saturday evening, at the Aquatics Centre, swimming prepared to say goodbye to its greatest name. Michael Phelps and the United States won the 4x100m medley, clinching his 18th gold medal in what appeared set to be his final race.

Indeed, Phelps confirmed his retirement following the Games, only to return in predictably dominant fashion in 2016.

Across the city that same night, Team GB athletes were capping a stunning run of medals that would see the day dubbed "Super Saturday". There were six home golds in all, including big wins for Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah in quick succession.

The drama only continued the next day, too, as Andy Murray finally sealed a Wimbledon win over Federer in the tennis event, while Usain Bolt lit up London Stadium in the 100m.

JUNE 1, 2019

It is 12 months to the day since another epic sporting stretch, one that concluded in stunning fashion with one of boxing's great modern upsets.

Rugby union and football each had their respective turns in the spotlight earlier, with Saracens following up their European Champions Cup success - a third in four years - by retaining the Premiership title with victory over Exeter Chiefs.

In Madrid, two more English teams were in action as Liverpool edged past Tottenham in the Champions League final.

But as Sarries and the Reds celebrated, focus turned towards Madison Square Garden where Anthony Joshua was expected to make light work of Andy Ruiz Jr, a replacement for Jarrell Miller following a failed drugs test.

The heavyweight title match did not go to script, however, as Ruiz floored Joshua four times and forced a stoppage to claim his belts, albeit only until the rematch where the Briton saved face.

JULY 14, 2019

These crazy spectacles have largely seen sport spread throughout the day, but three sets of eyes were required to keep up with the action on an epic afternoon last July.

With England hosting and then reaching the Cricket World Cup final, the scene-stealing decider fell on the same day as the Wimbledon men's final and the British Grand Prix, ensuring the United Kingdom was the focus of the sporting world.

The cricket started off several hours before either the tennis or the F1 but still managed to outlast its rival events, with Ben Stokes determined to put on a show as England won via a dramatic Super Over at the end of a nine-hour saga against New Zealand.

Novak Djokovic was battling Stokes for attention as he was taken all the way by that man Federer at the All England Club before finally prevailing 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) in the tournament's longest singles final.

The respective classics made the British GP, completed earlier in the day, something of an afterthought - but not for Lewis Hamilton, who claimed a record sixth victory.

Roger Federer and Anthony Joshua have become accustomed to winning in their respective sports, but both suffered notable defeats on June 1 through the years.

Federer saw his hopes of a second successive title at the French Open dashed in 2010, while nine years later Joshua lost his heavyweight titles - and his perfect record - to Andy Ruiz.

The date has better memories for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League, plus it is also memorable for marking the end of Shaquille O'Neal's stellar NBA career.

Take a look back at some of the great sporting moments to happen on this day.

 

2008 – Royals overcome Kings to be crowned

The inaugural IPL season concluded with a last-ball thriller. 

Rajasthan Royals, who were the top seeds at the end of the round-robin stage, just about overcame Chennai Super Kings in Mumbai, Sohail Tanvir the unlikely hero with the bat as he hit the single they required from the final delivery of the match.

Captain Shane Warne was also out in the middle for the winning run but Yusuf Pathan was the star performer for the Royals in the final, following up figures of 3-22 with the ball by making 56 in their successful chase. 

2010 – Federer's slam streak comes to an end

For a second successive year, Robin Soderling caused a huge upset at Roland Garros. 

The Swede had sensationally knocked out Rafael Nadal in the fourth round in 2009, though he went on to lose in the final to Federer. However, 12 months on, he gained revenge in the French capital, ending the champion's reign with a 3-6 6-3 7-5 6-4 win in their last-eight meeting.

With the loss, Federer saw his impressive run of reaching 23 consecutive grand slam semi-finals come to an end. 

2011 – Shaq stops: NBA legend announces retirement

After a 19-year career that saw him score 28,596 points, O'Neal decided the time was right to retire. The man nicknamed 'The Big Diesel' had come to the end of the road.

Drafted by the Orlando Magic with the first overall pick in 1992, the center won three successive titles after moving to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he teamed up with Kobe Bryant.

O'Neal - voted the league's MVP in 2000 - won a further championship after switching to the Miami Heat. There were also stints with the Phoenix Suns and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the latter stages before a final stop in Boston with the Celtics.

2019 – Replacement Ruiz stuns AJ in New York

Ruiz was not even originally due to be in the opposite corner to Joshua in Madison Square Garden.

The challenger was called in as a replacement when Jarrell Miller was removed from the headline act - and he seized the unexpected opportunity by producing a stunning result that sent shockwaves through the boxing world.

Joshua had won 22 straight as a pro and came into the bout as the IBF, WBA and WBO champion. However, he was dropped and stopped by Ruiz, who climbed off the canvas in the third round to sensationally turn the fight around. 

Roger Federer has eclipsed Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to top the annual Forbes list of the highest paid athletes on the planet.

The Swiss maestro jumped four spots to sit top of the pile, earning $106.3million in the past year as he becomes the first tennis player to lead the way.

That eye-watering figure puts the 20-time grand slam winner ahead of football stars Ronaldo ($105m), Messi ($104m) and Neymar ($95.5m).

NBA icon LeBron James rounds out the top five, raking in $88.2m in a period when some sportspeople took wage cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Endorsements account for most of Federer's income, but he also undertook a tour of North and South America late last year to further boost his earnings.

"The coronavirus pandemic triggered salary cuts for soccer stars Messi and Ronaldo, clearing the way for a tennis player to rank as the world's highest-paid athlete for the first time," said Kurt Badenhausen, senior editor at Forbes.

"Roger Federer is the perfect pitchman for companies, resulting in an unparalleled endorsement portfolio of blue-chip brands worth $100million a year for the tennis great."

Federer's rise to the summit comes after fellow tennis player Naomi Osaka was announced as the highest paid female athlete, her $37.4m putting the Japanese 29th overall.

Fabio Fognini is using the ATP Tour's suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic to undergo surgery on both ankles, the world number 11 revealed on Saturday.

The Italian won the Monte-Carlo Masters last season but has been dealing with long-standing ankle issues.

The 2020 campaign has been paused since March amid the COVID-19 crisis, but Fognini saw no improvement in his injury problems when he returned to training recently.

Fognini, who broke into the top 10 of the ATP rankings for the first time in 2019, sought medical advice and was set for arthroscopic surgery in Italy on Saturday.

"I've been having a problem with my left ankle for three and a half years now," he wrote to fans on his Twitter page. "It's an issue I've learnt to cope with.

"Then my right ankle started playing up in the past two years as well.

"I had hoped the various issues would go away during the two-month break from the game because of the lockdown, but when I resumed training, they were still there.

"After medical examination and a long discussion with my time, I decided to have arthroscopic surgery on both ankles. I believe it's the right thing to do while the tour is on this enforced break.

"I will undergo surgery in Italy today. I can't wait to be back playing again! I know you will support me. A big hug to all of you!"

The suspension of the Tour has been extended until at least August, with Wimbledon cancelled and the French Open moved to September.

Fognini reached the last 16 of the Australian Open in January but has otherwise struggled for form in 2020, falling at the first hurdle at the ASB Classic, Rotterdam Open and Dubai Tennis Championships.

Petra Kvitova is not in favour of playing at a grand slam behind closed doors, claiming she would rather see the events cancelled than be held without fans.

The WTA and ATP Tour have been heavily disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic, with many tournaments postponed – the French Open having been pushed back to September – and others, including Wimbledon, cancelled altogether.

Kvitova is returning to the court in a tournament in her native Czech Republic this week, which will be played without fans in attendance.

However, the possibility of featuring in a grand slam behind closed doors does not appeal to the two-time Wimbledon champion.

"I have my age and of course I would like to play another grand slam, but if it's like this, I'd rather cancel them," Kvitova, 30, said at a news conference.

"Playing a grand slam is the greatest thing there is and playing without fans who are our engine doesn't look nice to me and the grand slam doesn't deserve it."

The event Kvitova is taking part in this week features eight men and eight women, who will not shake hands before or after their matches, while ball boys will not be allowed to hand towels to the players.

"We are here to reintroduce tennis not only to the Czech Republic, but also to the world," Kvitova added.

"The hardest thing will be to find the rhythm, we haven't played a match for a very long time.

"I hope nobody expects us to play fantastic tennis, because it may happen or it may not."

The world number 12 opens her tournament against doubles specialist Barbora Krejcikova on Tuesday.

Novak Djokovic kept it quiet that he was able to train almost every day during lockdown as the world number one did not want to "infuriate other players".

Djokovic is back in Serbia after spending two months in Marbella, as the coronavirus pandemic prevented him from returning to his homeland.

The 17-time grand slam champion, who is set to host and play in the new Adria Tour next month, did not want to make it public that he had been able to stay more active than most of his rivals during his time in Spain.

He said at a press conference in Belgrade on Monday: "Unlike many other players, I was able to train almost every day because we resided in a house with a tennis court.

"I refrained from posting clips on social networks because I didn't want to infuriate other players. I am fit and in good shape, so I am looking forward to the Adria Tour, which I am organising."

Djokovic, who turned 33 last Friday, revealed that Alexander Zverev is the latest player who has committed to playing on the Adria Tour.

The world number seven has agreed to play in the June 13-14 event in Belgrade and could be on court in Zadar, Croatia a week later.

Djokovic added that matches in Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina have not yet been 100 per cent confirmed.

The events have been arranged to raise money for "humanitarian projects across the region" as well as helping tennis players get back in shape during the ATP Tour suspension.

Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov are among the other players who will feature.

French Open director Guy Forget says he is working closely with tennis authorities to ensure the tournament at Roland Garros does not clash with the US Open.

The Parisian major was initially scheduled to start on Sunday but the coronavirus pandemic resulted in it being postponed until September 20 – a week after the final of the US Open.

Criticism of the decision was rife, and the calendar for the rest of the season remains up in the air with the ATP Tour and WTA Tour suspended until August at the earliest.

Forget said he is working towards a suitable resolution and expects an announcement on the US Open's plans in June.

"The official announcement has not been made yet. [The French Open] will probably be between the end of September and the beginning of October," Forget told French radio station Europe 1.

"We've been working closely with the ATP, the WTA and the ITF to make a global announcement on what the circuit will be like until the end of the year.

"There are so many question marks. New York City is more affected by the coronavirus than France. They also have a lot of organisational problems.

"They will make an announcement mid-June to say how it's going to be like for the US Open."

According to the John Hopkins University, New York City has seen 197,266 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 28,926 dying as a result. France has had 182,018 cases and 28,218 deaths.

Professional sports have been prohibited in France until September but Forget remains optimistic about the chances of staging a successful French Open.

"The signals are going in the right direction with the reopening of businesses," he said.

"We can imagine that this will also be the case for restaurants and bars in the coming weeks.

"Now we don't know what's going to happen in a month or two. We will adapt to what the government tells us.

"You have to be ambitions and optimistic. We hope that Roland Garros will take place, and in good conditions."

World number one Novak Djokovic will return to the court next month for a new tour in the Balkans.

The spread of coronavirus - and the subsequent suspension of the ATP Tour - means Djokovic has not played since beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships in February.

The ATP Tour will not resume until August at the earliest, but Djokovic has confirmed he will participate in a new tournament that is launching in his native Serbia.

The Adria Tour will be held in four countries - Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina - with events on June 13-14, June 20-21, June 27-28 and July 3-4.

Djokovic, who turned 33 on Friday, will play in each leg of the series and will face Bosnian Damir Dzumhur on July 5 in a final exhibition match in Sarajevo.

He wrote on Twitter: "I'm proud to officially share the news that the #AdriaTour will be held across the #Balkans 13 June - 5 July kicking off with a tournament in Belgrade. Very grateful we could make this happen to play and support humanitarian projects across the region."

Tournament organisers said the aim of the series is to raise money for "humanitarian projects across the region" as well as helping tennis players get back in shape during the ATP Tour suspension.

As well as Djokovic, Austria's world number three Dominic Thiem has also signed up, as have Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and Serbia's Viktor Troicki.

Organisers said tickets will be sold to fans if "the presence of the audience is allowed".

World number one Novak Djokovic will return to the court next month for a new tour in the Balkans.

The spread of coronavirus - and the subsequent suspension of the ATP Tour - means Djokovic has not played since beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships in February.

The ATP Tour will not resume until August at the earliest, but Djokovic has confirmed he will participate in a new tournament that is launching in his native Serbia.

The Adria Tour will be held in four countries - Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina - with events on June 13-14, June 20-21, June 27-28 and July 3-4.

Djokovic, who turned 33 on Friday, will play in each leg of the series and will face Bosnian Damir Dzumhur on July 5 in a final exhibition match in Sarajevo.

He wrote on Twitter: "I'm proud to officially share the news that the #AdriaTour will be held across the #Balkans 13 June - 5 July kicking off with a tournament in Belgrade. Very grateful we could make this happen to play and support humanitarian projects across the region."

Tournament organisers said the aim of the series is to raise money for "humanitarian projects across the region" as well as helping tennis players get back in shape during the ATP Tour suspension.

As well as Djokovic, Austria's world number three Dominic Thiem has also signed up, as have Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and Serbia's Viktor Troicki.

Organisers said tickets will be sold to fans if "the presence of the audience is allowed".

Naomi Osaka has surpassed Serena Williams as the world's highest-earning female athlete.

The two-time grand slam winner accumulated a total $37.4million combined from prize money and endorsements over the past year, according to Forbes.

Osaka, who won her first major title at the 2018 US Open where she defeated Williams, earned $1.4m more than the American great, who was top of the female rankings for the past four years.

Her accumulated earnings are the biggest total over a 12-month period for a female athlete, beating the previous tally of $29.7m Maria Sharapova achieved in 2015.

Osaka ranks 29th in the overall list, with Williams 33rd marking the first time since 2016 two women have made the 100 highest-paid athletes.

"To those outside the tennis world, Osaka is a relatively fresh face with a great back story," David Carter, a sports business professor at USC's Marshall School of Business, told Forbes. 

"Combine that with being youthful and bicultural, two attributes that help her resonate with younger, global audiences, and the result is the emergence of a global sports marketing icon."

After making her major breakthrough at Flushing Meadows, Osaka went on to win the next slam at the 2019 Australian Open but a dip in form has seen her slip from world number one to 10th in the WTA rankings.

Osaka has major sponsorship deals with the likes of Nike, Nissan Motors, Shiseido and Yonex.

Former Australian Open champion Ashley Cooper has died at the age of 83.

Cooper, an eight-time major champion across singles and doubles competition, had been battling a lengthy illness.

Compatriot Rod Laver paid tribute to Cooper on Twitter, writing: "He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand!

"So many cherished memories. Farewell my friend. My thoughts are with Ashley's wife, Helen, and his family."

Cooper played during Australia's golden era of men's tennis, winning four major singles titles including two on home soil.

He won three of the four slams in 1958, the French Open the only trophy to elude him, a year after leading Australia to Davis Cup success.

In 1958, Australia lost to the United States and Cooper attempted to withdraw from a professional contract signed with Jack Kramer as he "felt he owed" his country, according to Tennis Australia.

His 1959 wedding to Helen Wood, who was the reigning Miss Australia, attracted more than 3,000 well-wishers.

Following his retirement, Cooper worked as an administrator for Tennis Queensland and Tennis Australia and was instrumental in the construction of the Queensland Tennis Centre, built on the site of a disused power station.

Current women's world number one Ash Barty paid her own tribute, writing: "Thank you for everything that you have done for our sport. My thoughts are with your family and loved ones. Rest In Peace, Ashley."

Novak Djokovic celebrates his birthday on Friday, with the world number one showing no signs of slowing down as he turns 33.

The world number one lifted his 17th grand slam title in January with a five-set win over Dominic Thiem.

Five-set sagas have been the domain of Djokovic throughout his career, with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro all sharing the court with him for a series of grand slam thrillers that live long in the memory.

Here we look back at a selection of Djokovic's most epic encounters.

2011 US Open Semi-final v Federer ​– Win

Djokovic is renowned for his power to recover from even the most precarious of positions and Federer was on the receiving end of two such Houdini acts in successive years at Flushing Meadows.

Indeed, after saving two match points in a last-four encounter with the Swiss great in 2010, Djokovic repeated the trick en route to a 6-7 4-6 6-3 6-2 7-5 victory after three hours and 51 minutes.

"It's awkward having to explain this loss," Federer said afterwards. "Because I feel like I should be doing the other press conference."

Federer offered little praise for a stunning forehand winner that helped the Serbian save a match point, saying that at that moment Djokovic did not look like a player "who believes much anymore in winning".

He added: "To lose against someone like that, it's very disappointing, because you feel like he was mentally out of it already. Just gets the lucky shot at the end, and off you go."

2012 Australian Open semi-final v Murray – Win

There has arguably been no tournament where Djokovic demonstrated a greater proclivity for endurance than at Melbourne Park in 2012.

His semi-final with Murray, who was weeks into his partnership with coach Ivan Lendl, produced a bewitching prelude of what was to follow in the final.

Murray pushed Djokovic to the limit in a marathon lasting four hours and 50 minutes, fighting back from 5-2 down in the final set of a match in which the ultimate victor battled breathing problems.

Djokovic recovered from surrendering that lead, however, and clinched a 6-3 3-6 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 7-5 victory to set up a final with Rafael Nadal that somehow surpassed the semi-final as the pair etched their name into the record books.

2012 Australian Open final v Nadal ​– Win

With Djokovic needing to produce an exhausting effort to get beyond Murray and Nadal having taken part in his own classic semi-final with Federer, albeit with victory secured in four sets, both would have been forgiven for putting on a final below their usual standards.

They instead did the exact opposite and delivered a showpiece considered by some to be the greatest final ever.

An undulating attritional battle went for five hours and 53 minutes, making it the longest final in grand slam history and the longest Australian Open contest of all time.

Nadal was on his knees as if he had won the tournament when he took the fourth set on a tie-break and was a break up in a fittingly frenetic decider.

However, it was Djokovic who ultimately prevailed at 1:37am (local time) with a 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 triumph that clinched his fifth grand slam.

Djokovic said: "It was obvious on the court for everybody who has watched the match that both of us, physically, we took the last drop of energy that we had from our bodies, we made history tonight and unfortunately there couldn't be two winners."

2012 US Open final v Murray – Loss

Having been the thorn in Murray's side in Melbourne for successive years, also defeating him in the final of the 2011 Australian Open, Djokovic succumbed to the Scot at Flushing Meadows, but only after a Herculean comeback effort.

Murray took the first two sets, the opener won in the longest tie-break (24 minutes) of a men's championship match. Djokovic, though, appeared primed to become the first man since Gaston Gaudio in 2004 to win a slam final after losing the first two sets.

However, Murray was not be denied and dominated the decider to close out a 7-6 (12-10) 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2 victory, the longest final in US Open history.

Gracious in defeat, Djokovic said of Murray's first slam title: "Definitely happy that he won it. Us four [Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray], we are taking this game to another level. It's really nice to be part of such a strong men's tennis era."

2013 French Open semi-final v Nadal ​– Loss

With Nadal back from a serious knee injury that cost him seven months of his career, the Spaniard returned to peak form at his favourite slam with another absorbing duel with Djokovic.

Lasting four hours and 37 minutes, it did not quite match the heights of their Australian Open opus, but there were enough twists and turns to satisfy those clamouring for another Djokovic-Nadal classic.

Nadal was unable to serve for the match in the fourth set and Djokovic led 4-2 in the fifth, but a decider stretching one hour and 20 minutes went the way of the King of Clay.

"Serving for the match at 6-5 in the fourth, I was serving against the wind, so I knew it was going to be a difficult game," Nadal said after his 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-7 (3-7) 9-7 win.

"I was ready for the fight. In Australia 2012 it was a similar match - today it was me [that won]. That's the great thing about sport."

2013 Wimbledon semi-final v Del Potro – Win

"It was one of the best matches I've been a part of."

Given his travails of 2012, Djokovic's words after his victory over the 2009 US Open champion served as remarkably high praise.

It was a match worthy of such an effusive tribute.

Having twisted his knee earlier in the tournament, Del Potro's contribution to a phenomenal last-four clash served as one of more impressive feats of the Argentinian's career.

Against another opponent, his unrelenting and thunderous groundstrokes would have prevailed, but it was Djokovic's court coverage that proved the difference after four hours and 43 minutes.

Following his 7-5 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 victory, Djokovic said of Del Potro: "[He showed] why he's a grand slam champion, why he's right at the top, because every time he's in a tough situation, he comes up with some unbelievable shots."

2015 French Open semi-final v Murray – Win

Two days were needed to separate Djokovic and Murray as the Parisian skies played their part in the semi-final.

A storm halted proceedings on the Friday with Djokovic 2-1 up heading into the fourth set.

Murray appeared to have benefited from the delay as he began Saturday by forcing a decider, but Djokovic was clinical in wrapping up the fifth in comfortable fashion.

He triumphed 6-3 6-3 5-7 5-7 6-1, though a first Roland Garros title would have to wait, however, with Djokovic stunningly defeated by Stan Wawrinka in the final 24 hours later.

2016 US Open final v Wawrinka ​– Loss

Wawrinka would again prove Djokovic's undoing in New York as an astonishing demonstration of shot-making saw the defending champion dethroned.

The Swiss' 18 hours on court ahead of the final were double that of Djokovic, but his toil paid dividends as he bounced back from dropping the first set on a tie-break.

It was a rare occasion where Djokovic ​– battling a blister on his big toe – was rendered powerless in the face of Wawrinka's 46 winners.

Wawrinka came through 6-7 (1-7) 6-4 7-5 6-3 after three hours and 55 minutes, with Djokovic saying: "Congratulations, Stan, to your team as well. This has been absolutely deserved today. You were the more courageous player in the decisive moment and he deserves his title."

2018 Wimbledon semi-final v Nadal - Win

Spread across two days having been made to wait six hours and 36 minutes for Kevin Anderson to outlast John Isner in the other semi-final, Djokovic and Nadal combined to deliver a spectacle eminently more memorable than the meeting of the two big servers.

Djokovic led by two sets to one when play suspended at 11:02 pm (local time), Wimbledon's curfew ending any hopes of a Friday finish.

The prospect of a swift Saturday was soon put to bed for Djokovic as Nadal claimed the fourth. However, Djokovic eventually came through a deciding set among the finest ever contested by the two greats to seal a 6-4 3-6 7-6 (13-11) 3-6 10-8 victory after five hours and 15 minutes.

It marked a first Wimbledon final since 2015 and the start of Djokovic's return to the top of the sport after struggles with injury saw him tumble out of the top 20 in 2018.

Djokovic said: "Speaking from this position right now it makes it even better for me, makes it even more special because I managed to overcome challenges and obstacles, get myself to the finals of a slam." 

2019 French Open semi-final v Thiem ​– Loss

Djokovic was bidding to become the first man to hold all four grand slams at the same time twice but fell foul of Thiem and the French weather.

The last-four meeting began on a Friday but was suspended three times due to wind and rain before organisers cancelled play for the day.

Thiem eventually edged an enthralling affair 2-6 6-3 5-7 7-5 5-7 in four hours and 13 minutes, but Djokovic was quick to direct his ire at tournament officials.

"It [was] one of the worst conditions I have ever been part of," said Djokovic.

"When you're playing in hurricane kind of conditions, it's hard to perform your best."

2019 Wimbledon final v Federer ​– Win

Few would argue Djokovic did not deserve to retain the Wimbledon title. Grinding down Federer remains one of the most arduous tasks in sport, but most would accept this was a final Djokovic was fortunate to win.

An awe-inspiring match, Federer's was a vintage performance, but it was underscored by missed opportunities that will stay with him long after his dazzling career comes to an end.

Federer had a pair of match points at 8-7 in a captivating fifth set. Both were squandered, and few players in the history of tennis have ever been as ruthless at compounding the missed chances of others as Djokovic. 

He duly exercised his flair for punishing profligacy by winning the first ever 12-all tie-break, clinching a fifth Wimbledon crown 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) after four hours and 57 minutes.

"If not the most exciting and thrilling finals of my career, in the top two or three and against one of the greatest players of all time," Djokovic said. "As Roger said, we both had our chances. It's quite unreal to be two match points down and come back."

The Commentators, Donald Oliver and Ricardo Chambers, as noted sports journalists, have been at the forefront of tracking the careers of sportsmen and women worldwide.

Page 1 of 48
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.