Tim Henman commented on the importance of Rafael Nadal’s Grand Slam record to Novak Djokovic’s career. The Serb can equal the Spaniard’s legendary feat by winning his 10th title at the Australian Open on Sunday.
That scenario would see the iconic pair head into the French Open level on the number of majors won and any potential clash in the French capital would go down as one of the biggest in history. Djokovic has been vocal about his desire to hold the Grand Slam record and Eurosport pundit Tim Henman claimed that is the driving force for the 35-year-old’s career.
“There would be a 10th Australian Open title, there would be the scenario of getting back to number one in the rankings,” the former British number one said. “But for me the most important number is 22, that is very much what his [Djokovic] career is about.
“He’s given himself another opportunity. It wasn’t the best match he’s played [against Paul], but it’s about finding a way. He sounds very ready for whatever Tsitsipas can throw at him.” Djokovic needed two hours and 20 minutes to defeat Tommy Paul 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 on Friday in the semi-finals at Melbourne Park.
After overcoming a wobble in the first the set he now stands on the brink of creating more history Down Under. His latest victory at the first Grand Slam of the year saw him surpass Andre Agassi’s record of consecutive match wins of 26.
Djokovic will now contest Sunday's final with Stefanos Tsitsipas with the world number one ranking on the line for both players. "It means everything, especially at this stage of my career," said Djokovic. "I need that engine, I need that energy and I'm really thankful that I still have enough gas in my legs to be able to play in this level on one of the biggest tennis courts in the world.
"Of course it [adds extra significance]," added Djokovic, who has won his last nine matches against the Greek star. "Winning Grand Slams and being the No. 1 in the world are probably the two biggest peaks that you can climb as a professional tennis player. Let's see what happens."
Nadal meanwhile, who exited the Australian Open in the second round due to a hip injury, took to social media to provide an update on his recovery. The 14-time French Open winner returned to his native Spain and visited the Clínica Tenis Teknon in Barcelona for a medical assessment.
The test results were as expected, meaning Nadal remains on his previous rehabilitation schedule - albeit further examinations will be conducted in three weeks.
“Today I have been at the Clínica Tenis Teknon in Barcelona where they have carried out some tests on me,” Nadal wrote on Twitter. “The Melbourne results are confirmed and the deadlines remain the same. We established the treatments to follow and in three weeks they will carry out new tests to see the evolution.”
It is unlikely Nadal will be fit for the American swing in Indian Wells and Miami, with the former starting on March 8. It is likely his focus will be on returning to fitness for the start of clay campaign in the spring, with the goal being to defend his French Open crown.