“What are you still doing here?” Daniil Medvedev joked to Novak Djokovic following the Serb’s historic 24th Grand Slam triumph.
“I don’t know, when are you planning to slow down a little bit?” the Russian enquired.
It is a fair question.
Overcoming Medvedev in straight sets on Sunday, 36-year-old Djokovic equalled Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 major singles titles to stand at the pinnacle of his sport.
And it appeared to mean more than any other before it. The emotion came pouring out of Djokovic as the magnitude of his achievement sank in, before the celebrations with his family and team members commenced.
“This is one of the biggest achievements in sport history,” his coach Goran Ivanisevic later declared. “We’re not talking about tennis. We are talking generally, in sport.”
He added: “If he wins 25, he’s going to think ‘why not 26?’ It’s always one more, something more.
“He’s taking care of his body, he’s taking care of everything, every single detail has to be perfect.”
Perhaps most remarkably, the Serb – who is peerless in the Open era (since tennis went professional in 1968) – has accomplished such remarkable heights despite competing in the greatest era the men’s game has witnessed.
A 24th Slam extended his lead over rival Rafael Nadal to two titles in the ongoing race for supremacy, after Swiss great Roger Federer retired with 20.
But while Spain’s Nadal has announced his plans to stop at the end of the 2024 season, there are no signs of Djokovic’s remarkable career coming to an end.
“I don’t put any number right now in my mind on how many Slams I want to win,” Djokovic said.
“Knowing that I play at such a high level still and I win the biggest tournaments, I don’t want to leave this sport if I’m still at the top.”
Djokovic gets US Open revenge to match Court
Djokovic admitted that the weight of history contributed to an underperformance when, on the brink of a stunning calendar Grand Slam in 2021, he lost to Medvedev in the US Open final to miss out on winning all four major titles in the same year.
But, two months after being denied a 24th title by Carlos Alcaraz in an epic five-set Wimbledon final, he would not allow his latest opportunity to pass him by.
The possibility of winning all four majors in the same year was not on the line here – although matching Rod Laver in that regard is no doubt an achievement he will have on his mind after losing…