Exclusive: Boris Becker tells The Tennis Space that if Novak Djokovic wins the French Open to complete the Nole Slam – he would be the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four grand slams at the same time – the achievement would put the Serbian “on the same level as Federer and Nadal”. Becker said that Djokovic has so far been “the unlucky third”, despite having won five majors.
Becker on Djokovic putting himself level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal
“I don’t believe that Djokovic winning the French Open, to hold all four slams, would be the greatest achievement in the history of the sport. I have a hard time forgetting the success of Laver, because the competition was tough then too, and he did the grand slam in one year twice. But, saying that, if Djokovic were to win a fourth in a row, that would obviously be something which hasn’t been done in many, many years. He’s playing in an era when he’s up against arguably two of the greatest players of all time, Nadal and Federer. He’s been the unlucky third, but he’s already won five grand slams, and he hasn’t lost much this year already. But he still has to prove himself because the competition is so good, so high. If he wins the French Open that would put him on the same level as Federer and Nadal.”
Becker on why it wouldn’t make a difference that it wouldn’t be in a calendar year
“It would still be in a row. I wouldn’t be so small-minded to say that you have to do it in one year. Yes, it would be different because it’s over two years, but the slams would all be back-to-back, starting at Wimbledon last year, and that would be the key. I would call it the grand slam.”
Becker on why this is not the strongest men’s era of all time
“I disagree with that view. What about the 1970s when you had Borg, McEnroe, Connors, Nastase and many more, or the 1980s with Lendl, Edberg, Wilander, me, and in the 1990s you had Sampras and Agassi in the same era, and you shouldn’t forget about Courier and Chang and others. The quality of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic stands out. But, unfortunately, the players behind are far behind. I can’t remember a time when it was so certain that the top four – so you include Murray in that – were a given to reach the semi-finals of grand slams. The competition from 1 to 50 was stronger in the 1980s and 1990s than it is now.”