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Djokovic: Best Of Times

By Richard Pagliaro

The quest for the Grand Slam record bonds the Big 3—and makes this the best of times for tennis, says Novak Djokovic.

The top-seeded Serbian reached his seven straight Rome semifinal today.

Afterward, the 17-time Grand Slam champion said he and rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal all share two ultimate goals: own the career Grand Slam record and the record for most weeks as world No. 1.

More: Dimitrov on Thiem's Breakthrough

Twenty-time Grand Slam king Federer currently holds both records with 19-time major winner Nadal entering Roland Garros with a shot to equal the major mark.

Both records are within Djokovic’s reach.

On September 14th, the 33-year-old Djokovic equaled his idol, Pete Sampras, celebrating his 286th week as world No. 1 second to only Federer, who spent 310 weeks at the top spot.

“In our sport winning most Grand Slams and being No. 1 for as long as possible are two of the biggest goals professional goals— I think Roger and Rafa would agree with that,” Djokovic said. “We all have our own journeys and our own trajectories and careers that are very unique and very specific.

“But at the same time we have this era that we have been playing in together that brings us together. I think this is definitely one of best eras of tennis and I am grateful to be part of such an era with these two guys. They’re incredible champions on and off the court. “

Tennis Express

Dominic Thiem edged Alexander Zverev to win his maiden major at the US Open this month snapping the Big 3 streak of 13 consecutive Grand Slam championships.

Djokovic, who fought off Thiem to win his eighth Australian Open crown in February, said Thiem’s breakthrough adds an intriguing element to the Tour but believes the historic quest of Big 3 rivals remains the primary plot line that drives interest in the sport.

“We have some young guys we have a new Grand Slam winner in Dominic Thiem which was kind of expected in a way,” Djokovic said. “Knowing his qualities and seeing him reach three finals before and now winning.

“It’s great for tennis as well to see new faces, but I think it’s also quite important for tennis fans and sports fans to keep on seeing three of us trying to reach these heights trying to fight for Grand Slam titles.

“Anytime we get to play against each other between the three of us it’s always a blockbuster match regardless of the court or surface or location.”

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve