Chennai, Jan 24 (PTI) With the Australian Open currently on, defending champion Novak Djokovic has once again been dubbed as a favourite to retain the title, and former world No. 17 Bernard Tomic of Australia firmly believes there will be no one to challenge the great Serbian.
Djokovic is the leading Grand Slam winner in the Open Era of tennis. He also has the chance of winning the most Grand Slam titles across eras, as another win would allow him to surpass the all-time record of Margaret Court.
Djokovic is eying his 25th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.
Tomic, who has lost to Djokovic on all six instances in the ATP circuit, dubbed him a "freak" and also the "G.O.A.T", besides adding that to beat him, one has to play at the highest level at all times.
"I was lucky enough to beat Djokovic at the Hopman Cup 11 years ago (chuckles). He is a freak.
"You have no choice but to play at the highest level to beat him. And, if you lower your level even the slightest against him, you will lose," he told PTI in an exclusive interaction on the sidelines of an ongoing ITF event here.
"I firmly believe he will win the (ongoing) Australian Open. And if he does win, anything is possible. He can even touch the 30-Slams mark. He is the greatest of all time, for sure." Tennis has mostly been defined by the 'Big 3' era, which has been dominated by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic.
But, with the era on the verge of ending, it is likely to open the doors for other players to assert their dominance in Grand Slams.
Talking on the same, Tomic admitted that the trio has raised the bar quite high for the sport in current date, besides terming the era as the "toughest".
However, he firmly believes there will be players coming up and dominating the circuit in about 10 years from now.
"Like it or not, everything goes forward in life. Time moves on, and different players come in. The era when I played about five years ago, as Federer, Nadal, Novak, and even Andy Murray were exchanging the top spot quite frequently, was probably the toughest era of tennis," Tomic said.
"Guys like (Juan Martin) del Potro, (David) Ferrer, (Kei) Nishikori and (Jo-Wilfried) Tsonga -- a lot of players who could have won Grand Slams. Of course, they (Big 3) have changed the modern-day tennis and raised the bar quite high.
"Obviously, a lot of similar players are coming through now, like (Carlos) Alcaraz and (Jannik) Sinner. I hope they will win many more Grand Slams in the coming years, and about 10 years from now, we will definitely be here talking about them or some other players." Although Tomic feels that Alcaraz of Spain and Sinner of Italy would be the next big thing in tennis, he warned that as long as Djokovic is around, others will have to wait for their share of success.
"Sinner is likely to win five or 10 Grand Slams; Alcaraz as well. But, with Novak around for at least two more years, it's always going to be tough for anyone other than him," he continued.
"No, I don't think Novak is done yet, and no one has come close to him. I don't think anyone will ever come close to him in the next 10-15 years. Winning 20 Grand Slams itself will be a tedious task, and if he wins 30, it would be unreal." PTI AYG SSC SSC