Djokovic, Nadal and Federer’s greatest Slam wins after Novak’s verdict

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Grand Slam tennis has come to an end for another four months after Novak Djokovic won a historic 10th Australian Open title and 22nd overall Major to level the men’s singles title race with Rafael Nadal. The world No 1 called it the “biggest victory in my life given the circumstances” after playing through what was later revealed to be a three-centimetre tear in his hamstring.

Djokovic later doubled down on his comments, telling Eurosport’s Barbara Schett that it was “if not the most important victory, definitely one of the top two or three most important wins I had ever in my life considering the circumstances and what was on the line and coming back to Australia after last year’s events and stuff happening off the court that created tremendous pressure.”

The 35-year-old came through adversity to lift the title as he played through a hamstring tear while his dad became the centre of controversy in the second week after being caught posing alongside pro-Putin protesters, with Djokovic admitting the coverage of the incident “got to him”, and he was also returning to the Australian Open for the first time since being deported from the country a year ago. Following the Serb’s claim that his run to the title was one of his best-ever, Express Sport is taking a look back at each of the Big Three’s other greatest victories at a Grand Slam tournament that defied logic and changed the course of their careers.

Rafael Nadal 2022 Australian Open

You don’t have to go back much further to see another standout run to a Grand Slam title from one of the Big Three, as Nadal had his own fairytale in Melbourne just 12 months ago. The Spaniard was fresh off the back of a six-month injury layoff and later revealed that he didn’t even know if he’d be able to play last year’s Australian Open but he was able to make it to the final which was impressive enough in the early stage of his comeback, but his run became even more heroic as he came from two sets and three break points down against Daniil Medvedev to win the title. The victory was even more significant as it made him the first man ever to win a then-record 21st Grand Slam title and he went one step further a few months later at the French Open to win his 22nd, re-writing history.

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Novak Djokovic 2018 Wimbledon

Djokovic’s Interview Room 2 press conference at the 2018 French Open has now become infamous, as the world No 1 told reporters: “I don’t know if I’m going to play on the grass” following his shock French Open quarter-final defeat to Marco Cecchinato.

It had been a year since the Serb lifted a Major trophy and he seemed worlds away from his Grand Slam-winning self but just 40 days later he won a then-13th Major at Wimbledon as the 12th seed despite doubting whether he’d even play on the surface. It was a turning point for Djokovic, who lost just three more matches all year and picked up titles in Cincinnati and Shanghai as well as the US Open, and he has now won nine more Grand Slams since then.

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Roger Federer 2017 Australian Open

It’s only been six years but this has already become a classic. Federer ended his 2016 season with a semi-final loss at Wimbledon after injuring his knee and took six months away from the game, returning Down Under at the age of 35. It had been almost five years since his last Grand Slam title victory and he came into the Australian Open as the 17th seed. But he rolled back the years, beating a whole host of top 10 seeds including Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka before facing Nadal in a Major final for the first time since 2011 and winning his then-18th Grand Slam title in a five-set epic.

He ended up finishing the year with a 54-5 win-loss record and picked up titles in Indian Wells, Miami, Halle, Wimbledon, Shanghai and Basel. He later became the first man in history to reach 20 Grand Slam singles titles when he defended his Aussie Open title a year later in what was ultimately his last crowning moment at a Major.

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