Novak Djokovic has insisted he has always “dared to dream” as the 21-time Grand Slam winner homed in on Roger Federer’s title record by winning the Astana Open. The former world No 1 was in inspired form as he swept aside Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in Kazakhstan to claim his fourth title of the year and 90th in total, with Federer’s record now within his grasp.
Djokovic only dropped one set on his way to the final in Kazakhstan after Daniil Medvedev retired through injury when they were tied at 1-1 in the semi-final. But the Serbian reached another level in going up against the world No 5 Tsitsipas, sealing a 6-3, 6-4 victory.
He is now just 13 titles away from matching the all-time record set by Federer and few would bet against the 35-year-old from matching or even emulating his achievement before he ends his own career.
And Djokovic insists it was always part of his ambition to become one of tennis’ most successful players. When asked if he could have dreamed what he has achieved, he said defiantly: “I dared to dream actually!
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“You know, I always hoped I was going to have a great career, obviously I didn’t know the amount of finals I was going to play or win, but my intention was always to reach the highest height in our sport.
“I’m just very grateful and blessed to be able to play this well at this stage of my life, 35 is not the same as 25. But I think my experience in these sorts of matches probably helps as well to approach mentally this kind of match.”
Djokovic has been in sensational form of late and hasn’t lost a match since May 31 when he was defeated by Rafael Nadal in the French Open quarter-finals. Since then, the veteran star has racked 16 consecutive victories.
By winning in Astana, he has now won a title in 19 different countries highlighting his ability to win on all terrains. And to add to that, he has now won four titles in 2022 alone after triumphing in Rome, Wimbledon, Tel Aviv and now Astana.
It has not been an entirely smooth year for Djokovic though, having missed out on the US Open and entire North American leg due to his Covid vaccination status.
And the world no 7, who has qualified for the ATP Finals in Turin in November with his latest triumph, says he is “super pumped” with how he has returned to the tennis circuit.
“Well it did, I couldn’t ask for a better restart of the season. It was more than three months since Wimbledon finals, since Rome and Madrid tournaments, I’ve lost only to Rafa…” he added.
“Everything else was a win and I’m super pumped and motivated to end the season as I have done these past couple of weeks.”