Djokovic 'not as popular' as Federer and Nadal says McEnroe
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Novak Djokovic has received backing for his Calendar Grand Slam campaign at the US Open. The world No 1 will be attempting to make history as the first man to win 21 Majors, and be the first since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four Slams in one year. John McEnroe, a seven-time Major champion himself, has tipped Djokovic to win the US Open but identified one thing that could trip him up along the way and end his run.
Djokovic is the heavy favourite to win the US Open, which begins on Monday (August 30).
The world No 1 has already captured the titles at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and is bidding to be the first man in 52 years to win all four in a single year.
The odds are even more in the Serb’s favour after his long-time rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal announced they would both be out of the tour until 2022, as they recover from their own respective ongoing injuries, with the Swiss to have surgery.
It also means Djokovic can overtake his fellow members of the Big Three and hold the most Grand Slams for a male player in history, with the three currently tied on 20 each.
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One man who believes Djokovic can overcome the pressure of making history to win the US Open is four-time former champion at the event, John McEnroe.
“I anticipate that he’s going to win the tournament, that’s what I anticipate,” he told ESPN Press Room.
The top-ranked player was also on course to complete the even more elusive Golden Slam, winning all four Majors and Olympic gold, but fell short in Tokyo.
After storming to the semi-finals, he lost to Alexander Zverev from a set and a break up, then losing his bronze medal playoff to Pablo Carreno Busta the following day.
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McEnroe still backed the 34-year-old to win the US Open, despite being unable to win his first gold medal.
He added: “I felt before Wimbledon started that he was going to win the Grand Slam. I felt like he was going to lose at the Olympics. The two-out-of-three format, just excessive travel, no fans, et cetera, I think contributed.”
Despite showing strong support for the three-time former champion at the US Open, McEnroe named the one thing he believed could affect Djokovic’s chances.
“I think the heat is the big thing,” he said. “To me it’s going to be him against the field. I pick him right now.”
While he thought the other players in Flushing Meadows would also be impacted by any hot and humid conditions, he cited it as a factor in a potential Djokovic loss.
McEnroe said: “The heat could be an issue for any player, any top player, any player for that matter.
“That could be a deciding factor if he were to lose to someone, if he got stuck in a situation where he was playing in really hot conditions like it’s going to be tomorrow, if he was playing during the day. Otherwise I think he’s going to do it.
“Obviously can make things more interesting and exciting at this tournament, see if he can pull off something that’s not been done since Laver in ’69. Exciting.”
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