Novak Djokovic celebrates his birthday on Friday, with the world number one displaying no indicators of slowing down as he turns 33.
The world number one lifted his 17th grand slam title in January with a five-set win over Dominic Thiem.
Five-set sagas have been the area of Djokovic all through his profession, with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro all sharing the court docket with him for a sequence of grand slam thrillers that stay lengthy in the reminiscence.
Here we glance again at a variety of Djokovic’s most epic encounters.
2011 US Open Semi-final v Federer – Win
Djokovic is famend for his energy to get better from even the most precarious of positions and Federer was on the receiving finish of two such Houdini acts in successive years at Flushing Meadows.
Indeed, after saving two match factors in a last-four encounter with the Swiss nice in 2010, Djokovic repeated the trick en path to a 6-7 4-6 6-3 6-2 7-5 victory after three hours and 51 minutes.
“It’s awkward having to clarify this loss,” Federer mentioned afterwards. “Because I really feel like I ought to be doing the different press convention.”
Federer supplied little reward for a shocking forehand winner that helped the Serbian save a match level, saying that at that second Djokovic didn’t appear to be a participant “who believes a lot anymore in successful”.
He added: “To lose towards somebody like that, it is very disappointing, since you really feel like he was mentally out of it already. Just will get the fortunate shot at the finish, and off you go.”
2012 Australian Open semi-final v Murray – Win
There has arguably been no match the place Djokovic demonstrated a higher proclivity for endurance than at Melbourne Park in 2012.
His semi-final with Murray, who was weeks into his partnership with coach Ivan Lendl, produced a bewitching prelude of what was to comply with in the ultimate.
Full match stream https://t.co/U0RQR47j35
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) May 17, 2020
Murray pushed Djokovic to the restrict in a marathon lasting 4 hours and 50 minutes, preventing again from 5-2 down in the ultimate set of a match by which the final victor battled respiratory issues.
Djokovic recovered from surrendering that lead, nonetheless, and clinched a 6-Three 3-6 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 7-5 victory to arrange a ultimate with Rafael Nadal that in some way surpassed the semi-final as the pair etched their identify into the report books.
2012 Australian Open ultimate v Nadal – Win
With Djokovic needing to supply an exhausting effort to get past Murray and Nadal having taken half in his personal traditional semi-final with Federer, albeit with victory secured in 4 units, each would have been forgiven for placing on a ultimate beneath their traditional requirements.
They as a substitute did the actual reverse and delivered a showpiece thought of by some to be the greatest ultimate ever.
An undulating attritional battle went for 5 hours and 53 minutes, making it the longest ultimate in grand slam historical past and the longest Australian Open contest of all time.
Nadal was on his knees as if he had gained the match when he took the fourth set on a tie-break and was a break up in a fittingly frenetic decider.
It’s all setup for one more #AusOpen traditional.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 25, 2019
However, it was Djokovic who finally prevailed at 1:37am (native time) with a 5-7 6-Four 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 triumph that clinched his fifth grand slam.
Djokovic mentioned: “It was apparent on the court docket for everyone who has watched the match that each of us, bodily, we took the final drop of power that we had from our our bodies, we made historical past tonight and sadly there could not be two winners.”
2012 US Open ultimate v Murray – Loss
Having been the thorn in Murray’s facet in Melbourne for successive years, additionally defeating him in the ultimate of the 2011 Australian Open, Djokovic succumbed to the Scot at Flushing Meadows, however solely after a Herculean comeback effort.
Murray took the first two units, the opener gained in the longest tie-break (24 minutes) of a males’s championship match. Djokovic, although, appeared primed to grow to be the first man since Gaston Gaudio in 2004 to win a slam ultimate after shedding the first two units.
A battle of epic proportions in some of the windiest situations throughout a #USOpen ultimate…
: Murray vs Djokovic, 2012 pic.twitter.com/D5iS4CbHa8
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) May 10, 2018
However, Murray was not be denied and dominated the decider to shut out a 7-6 (12-10) 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2 victory, the longest ultimate in US Open historical past.
Gracious in defeat, Djokovic mentioned of Murray’s first slam title: “Definitely joyful that he gained it. Us 4 [Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray], we’re taking this sport to a different degree. It’s very nice to be half of such a robust males’s tennis period.”
2013 French Open semi-final v Nadal – Loss
With Nadal again from a critical knee damage that price him seven months of his profession, the Spaniard returned to peak kind at his favorite slam with one other absorbing duel with Djokovic.
Lasting 4 hours and 37 minutes, it didn’t fairly match the heights of their Australian Open opus, however there have been sufficient twists and turns to fulfill these clamouring for one more Djokovic-Nadal traditional.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) April 15, 2020
Nadal was unable to serve for the match in the fourth set and Djokovic led 4-2 in the fifth, however a decider stretching one hour and 20 minutes went the means of the King of Clay.
“Serving for the match at 6-5 in the fourth, I used to be serving towards the wind, so I knew it was going to be a troublesome sport,” Nadal mentioned after his 6-Four 3-6 6-1 6-7 (3-7) 9-7 win.
“I used to be prepared for the combat. In Australia 2012 it was the same match – immediately it was me [that won]. That’s the wonderful thing about sport.”
2013 Wimbledon semi-final v Del Potro – Win
“It was one of the greatest matches I’ve been an element of.”
Given his travails of 2012, Djokovic’s phrases after his victory over the 2009 US Open champion served as remarkably excessive reward.
It was a match worthy of such an effusive tribute.
Having twisted his knee earlier in the match, Del Potro’s contribution to an exceptional last-four conflict served as one of extra spectacular feats of the Argentinian’s profession.
Against one other opponent, his unrelenting and thunderous groundstrokes would have prevailed, but it surely was Djokovic’s court docket protection that proved the distinction after 4 hours and 43 minutes.
Following his 7-5 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-7 (6-8) 6-Three victory, Djokovic mentioned of Del Potro: “[He showed] why he is a grand slam champion, why he is proper at the prime, as a result of each time he is in a troublesome state of affairs, he comes up with some unbelievable photographs.”
2015 French Open semi-final v Murray – Win
Two days had been wanted to separate Djokovic and Murray as the Parisian skies performed their half in the semi-final.
A storm halted proceedings on the Friday with Djokovic 2-1 up heading into the fourth set.
Murray appeared to have benefited from the delay as he started Saturday by forcing a decider, however Djokovic was scientific in wrapping up the fifth in snug vogue.
He triumphed 6-Three 6-Three 5-7 5-7 6-1, although a primary Roland Garros title must wait, nonetheless, with Djokovic stunningly defeated by Stan Wawrinka in the ultimate 24 hours later.
2016 US Open ultimate v Wawrinka – Loss
Wawrinka would once more show Djokovic’s undoing in New York as an astonishing demonstration of shot-making noticed the defending champion dethroned.
The Swiss’ 18 hours on court docket forward of the ultimate had been double that of Djokovic, however his toil paid dividends as he bounced again from dropping the first set on a tie-break.
It was a uncommon event the place Djokovic – battling a blister on his huge toe – was rendered powerless in the face of Wawrinka’s 46 winners.
Wawrinka got here by way of 6-7 (1-7) 6-Four 7-5 6-Three after three hours and 55 minutes, with Djokovic saying: “Congratulations, Stan, to your staff as properly. This has been completely deserved immediately. You had been the extra brave participant in the decisive second and he deserves his title.”
2018 Wimbledon semi-final v Nadal – Win
Spread throughout two days having been made to attend six hours and 36 minutes for Kevin Anderson to outlast John Isner in the different semi-final, Djokovic and Nadal mixed to ship a spectacle eminently extra memorable than the assembly of the two huge servers.
Djokovic led by two units to 1 when play suspended at 11:02 pm (native time), Wimbledon’s curfew ending any hopes of a Friday end.
The prospect of a swift Saturday was quickly put to mattress for Djokovic as Nadal claimed the fourth. However, Djokovic finally got here by way of a deciding set amongst the best ever contested by the two greats to seal a 6-4 3-6 7-6 (13-11) 3-6 10-Eight victory after 5 hours and 15 minutes.
“I’ll positively keep in mind it eternally.”
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) December 28, 2018
It marked a primary Wimbledon ultimate since 2015 and the begin of Djokovic’s return to the prime of the sport after struggles with damage noticed him tumble out of the prime 20 in 2018.
Djokovic mentioned: “Speaking from this place proper now it makes it even higher for me, makes it much more particular as a result of I managed to beat challenges and obstacles, get myself to the finals of a slam.”
2019 French Open semi-final v Thiem – Loss
Djokovic was bidding to grow to be the first man to carry all 4 grand slams at the identical time twice however fell foul of Thiem and the French climate.
The last-four assembly started on a Friday however was suspended 3 times attributable to wind and rain earlier than organisers cancelled play for the day.
Thiem finally edged an enthralling affair 2-6 6-Three 5-7 7-5 5-7 in 4 hours and 13 minutes, however Djokovic was fast to direct his ire at match officers.
“[Thiem] performed nice, particularly in the essential moments.”
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 8, 2019
“It [was] one of the worst situations I’ve ever been half of,” mentioned Djokovic.
“When you are taking part in in hurricane sort of situations, it is arduous to carry out your greatest.”
2019 Wimbledon ultimate v Federer – Win
Few would argue Djokovic didn’t should retain the Wimbledon title. Grinding down Federer stays one of the most arduous duties in sport, however most would settle for this was a ultimate Djokovic was lucky to win.
An awe-inspiring match, Federer’s was a classic efficiency, but it surely was underscored by missed alternatives that can stick with him lengthy after his dazzling profession involves an finish.
Federer had a pair of match factors at 8-7 in a fascinating fifth set. Both had been squandered, and few gamers in the historical past of tennis have ever been as ruthless at compounding the missed probabilities of others as Djokovic.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 14, 2019
He duly exercised his aptitude for punishing profligacy by successful the first ever 12-all tie-break, clinching a fifth Wimbledon crown 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) after 4 hours and 57 minutes.
“If not the most enjoyable and thrilling finals of my profession, in the prime two or three and towards one of the greatest gamers of all time,” Djokovic mentioned. “As Roger mentioned, we each had our probabilities. It’s fairly unreal to be two match factors down and are available again.”