Former tennis star Mats Wilander believes Novak Djokovic 's turbulent 2022 could well add 'another year or two' onto the Serbian's career. It has been quite the year for Djokovic, which began with him being deported from Australia and spending a week in a quarantine hotel ahead of this year's Australian Open.
Djokovic was deported and banned from competing after failing to be vaccinated from COVID-19, thus breaking entry rules Down Under. Since the saga, his vaccine status has caused havoc with his schedule, with other nations and events - including the US Open - taking the same standpoint.
Amid the chaos though, the former world No. 1 has still enjoyed a year of success, winning his 21st Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, whilst being crowned ATP Finals champion last week.
And Wilander believes that this on-and-off period will have only made the Serb hungrier to play at the top level for longer. Per Eurosport , the former player said: "Novak has been so close to being allowed to go to the Australian Open and so close to being allowed to go to the US Open, that it would have never affected his training blocks or his practice sessions.
"And I think because he wasn't allowed to go, I think obviously physically it might be a tough thing for him to play five sets, seven matches, but he can deal with that. But emotionally, I feel like he's added another year or two to his career because he must probably be slightly upset about what happened.
"But obviously Novak understands completely what it is that happened and there's nothing you can do about it. And is it right or wrong? It doesn't really matter.... So I think he's able to understand that."
In spite of his stop-start campaign, Djokovic was still able to assert his dominance on the sport by winning the season finale in Turin last Sunday. Throughout his career, the Serbian has been regarded as arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, and Wilander believes he showed this in his ATP Finals win.
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He went on: "In Turin, he's better than everybody else. I mean, it was just a perfect storm for him and he was in the middle of it and he was just flying along. And you're not going to touch him when he's in that mood. Am I surprised that the younger guys can't hit through him? Sometimes I'm a little surprised, but it's more Novak.
"It's insane what he can do in the tennis court with his movement and his defence and most of all, his will to win the 'small matches' to him who is maybe the greatest player of all time. He finds a way to just make it mean everything. I'm so impressed."