2001 Australian Open runner-up Arnaud Clement thinks Novak Djokovic may finally be showing signs of slowing down as the former French tennis star thought the 36-year-old Serb “looked a little older” at the Australian Open.
Djokovic, a record 10-time Australian Open champion, saw his campaign at Melbourne Park end in the semifinal for the first time after Jannik Sinner handed him a 6-1 6-2 6-7 (6) 6-3 loss. During the match, world No. 1 Djokovic stunningly didn’t create a single break point – the first time that it happened to the Serb in a complete Grand Slam match.
Not only that Djokovic wasn’t able to create any break points, he was also getting outplayed by Sinner in other parts of the game as well. Although Djokovic was able to recover a bit and win the third set after claiming a total of three games during the first two sets, it didn’t lead to a comeback as Sinner got back into the full control of the match in the fourth set to seal a four-set win.
Since the 2023 ATP Finals, Djokovic has now lost three times to Sinner and defeated the Italian once. Now that Sinner has defeated Djokovic in the Australian Open final and Carlos Alcaraz managed to beat the Serb in last year’s Wimbledon final, Clement predicts it could get much more difficult for the 36-year-old to win Grand Slams.
Clement: Djokovic looked a little older than his age
“We always wondered who could beat Djokovic on hard and grass. Now a player has just beaten him three times on hard court,” Clement told L’Equipe.
“The vision we have of Djokovic is a little called into question. For the first time, in Melbourne, we said to ourselves that he looked a little older than his age.
“It’s clear that two or three guys who can stand in his way at Grand Slam tournaments because they are able to stop him in the important moments.
“Of course Djokovic is capable of setting things straight. But, if we take a snapshot of the end of 2023-beginning of 2024, Sinner beat him in matches that really matter, whether in the Davis Cup or in Melbourne. Now that he beat him in the five-set format, he knows he can do it again.”
Following Sinner’s outstanding end to the 2023 season, Clement thought more could come at the start of the 2024 season. Now, Clement is officially declaring Sinner as one of the top and very best players in the game.
“If there was a player capable of making a surprise it was him. Given his level in 2023 and his progression, it was clear that he was no longer in the same category,” Clement said.
“At the end of the year, he clearly joined the clan of the four, along with Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev.”
Clement doesn’t think Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev will win a Slam
Zverev, 26, and 25-year-old Tsitsipas have been at the top of tennis for several years now but they have yet to make a triumphant run at the Grand Slam level.
At this past Australian Open, Zverev delivered a major performance to upset Carlos Alcaraz in the quarterfinal but then disappointingly blew a two-set lead to Daniil Medvedev in the semifinal. On the other side, Tsitsipas – a two-time Grand Slam finalist – exited the Australian Open in the round-of-16 following a loss to Taylor Fritz.
Zverev, ranked at No. 6 in the world, made his first and lone Grand Slam final at the 2020 US Open. That year, Zverev was up by two sets in the final and even had a chance to serve out for the win before Dominic Thiem created a big comeback to beat the German. Following a disappointing Australian Open semifinal loss to Medvedev, Zverev is now 1-6 in his semifinals at Majors.
When it comes to Tsitsipas, he is a two-time Grand Slam finalist. In his first final at the 2021 French Open, Tsitsipas had a two-set lead over Djokovic before losing in five sets. At last year’s Australian Open, Tsitsipas made his second Grand Slam final. Again, Tsitsipas lost to Djokovic but this time in three sets.
“I no longer put Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev or Rublev in the same category as him. I still don’t see those guys lifting a Grand Slam trophy,” Clement said.
Meanwhile, Clement is also warning that 27-year-old Medvedev cannot be ruled out when it comes to future Grand Slam chances. Although Medvedev missed out on a two-set lead against Sinner in the Australian Open final, it was still his sixth Grand Slam final since 2019. Medvedev, the 2021 US Open champion, currently owns a 1-5 record in Slam finals.
“We must not forget Medvedev. We don’t talk about it, but it’s still there. A year ago we only saw the Djokovic-Alcaraz rivalry. Not now. The good thing is that an Alcaraz-Sinner rivalry has also been added. And for a long time!” Clement said.