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By Chris Oddo | Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Novak Djokovic, Wimbledon

How many major titles will Novak Djokovic win before it's all said and done?

Photo Source: Clive Brunskill/Getty

After winning his 9th major title at Wimbledon just over a month after turning 28, many are speculating about just how many Grand Slam titles Novak Djokovic will acquire before he is done performing on a tennis court. Many feel that the Serb is in a sweet spot right now, where his biggest rivals are in decline and generation next still is sporting some baby fat. ESPN’s Brad Gilbert is one of them.

“He’s still right now to me in a place where he’s going up,” said Gilbert in television segment immediately after Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final for his ninth major title. “Roger is kind of maintaining but he’s still not at the top, Rafa’s slid back and Murray’s kind of in there but he’s not at his arc again. To me Djokovic, the next two years, the next ten Slams, I think he could add least another five.”

History says it could be difficult. Federer had 15 majors to his name when he turned 28, but since then he’s only won two. Pete Sampras, who is tied with Rafael Nadal on the all-time Grand Slam title list, had 12 majors when he turned 28 and he finished his career with 14.

Table of Grand Slam titles and age

But Federer faced far more difficult tests than Djokovic is destined to face. With his archrival Nadal and Djokovic four and five years younger than him, the Swiss had to deal constantly with a formidable one-two punch. Djokovic, meanwhile, could benefit from the fact that Federer is on the cusp of 34 and Nadal, at 29, has big question marks concerning his future form.

“You have to look at the generations coming behind him,” said ESPN’s Darren Cahill. “The generation behind him is sort of Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov, Kei Nishikori—they’re doing well. And then the generation behind that is sort of your [Borna] Coric, [Nick] Kyrgios, [Alexander] Zverev, so there’s no one really that you feel like ‘Okay, he’s going to steal a few majors off of him.’”

Cahill added: “There’s no question that he’s going to add to it.”

Nadal had 13 majors when he turned 28 on June 3, 2014, and has since added the fourteenth. But his recent, prolonged struggles have many believing that he may not win another. If not Nadal and Federer, then surely a giant opportunity is presenting itself for Djokovic. Many point to Andy Murray (turned 28 one week before Djokovic on May 15) as the man with a chance to stop the Serb’s momentum, but he’s dropped eight straight against Djokovic since defeating him in the 2013 Wimbledon final.

# of Major Titles at 28th Birthday:

Federer, 15
Nadal, 13
Sampras, 12
Djokovic, 8

Though Federer and Sampras had trouble after turning 28, Djokovic's future shapes up far better with an aging Federer and a struggling Nadal as his two biggest rivals. Plus, there are examples of players who have had great success in their old age. Andre Agassi, a player similarly styled to Djokovic, won four Grand Slams past 28, and two of them came after he turned 30. Roy Emerson won five of his 12 major titles after turning 28, two of which came while he was in his 30’s. Rod Laver won the Calendar Slam in 1969 after turning 30 in September of the previous year.

There are no guarantees for Djokovic. Most expected him to win more majors by now, given the form he paraded in 2011 when he won three majors in one season for the first time, but he’s struggled in Slam finals and never won at Roland Garros. Still, the possibility for a prolonged run at the major title pantheon is certainly there. Already, the Serb is being considered in the Top 5 all-time when it comes to Open Era men. By the time he’s done he could be a lot higher on that list.


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