But what sets 2022 apart from its predecessors is that the focus is on the fate of a single player and not just any player. Djokovic is a nine-time Australian Open champion, in his record 355th week as No. 1 and the consensus as the greatest male player of this golden era, still behind Nadal and Federer in 20 Grand Slam singles titles. Despite being tied together.
The French Open belongs to Nadal – he has won an astonishing 13 titles on red clay in Paris – but the Australian Open has been Djokovic’s domain, and now it will be interesting to see what effect the pandemic standoff in Melbourne has on his legacy, below and out.
Nick Kyrgios, a young star who was not at the news conference as he is in isolation in Sydney after testing positive for the coronavirus, offered support for Djokovic on the podcast “No Boundaries” on Saturday.
“We are treating him like he is a weapon of mass destruction right now; He is literally here to play tennis,” Kyrgios said, suggesting that the Australian was using Djokovic as a punching bag to vent his frustrations over all his pandemic-related personalizations.
“As a human being, he is obviously feeling quite isolated,” said Kyrgios, who said Djokovic reached out to him via social media to thank him for the support. “It’s a dangerous place when you feel like the world is against you, and you can’t do anything right.”
Alexander Zverev, another young star close to Djokovic, argued on Saturday against reading too much into the current drama.
“He still won 20 Grand Slams. He still has the most weeks at No. 1. He still has the most Masters series,” Zverev said. “Still for me one of the greatest players of all time. I mean, it’s obviously not a good thing for everyone, especially him. But don’t question his legacy because of that.”