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The ultimate irony: Djokovic's shot at grand slam record will be at scene of his deportation

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Two years after being sensationally deported, the indomitable Novak Djokovic will return to Australia in January as a hot favourite to become the most prolific grand slam winner in tennis history.

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In yet another incredible twist in the tale of world sport’s most dominant triumvirate, Djokovic all but ended the greatest-ever debate once and for all with his record-equalling 24th grand slam singles triumph at the US Open in New York.

In matching Margaret Court’s magical majors mark with a fourth Flushing Meadows title, the super Serb extended his grand slam trophy lead over Rafael Nadal to two.

With the battered, sidelined and almost broken Nadal planning to finish up next year and fellow tennis titan Roger Federer already retired with “only” 20 slams, Djokovic has surely confirmed his status as men’s tennis’s GOAT (greatest of all time).

And how.

Federer had 16 slams to his credit before Djokovic won his second in 2011.

But the Serb has since spent the past dozen years relentlessly chasing Federer and Nadal down and has ultimately removed his two great rivals from some of the most significant pages in the tennis history books.

Set to enjoy a 391st week atop the rankings, Djokovic has also surpassed Federer (310) as the longest-serving world No.1 and boasts the most Masters 1000 titles with 38, compared to Nadal’s 36 and Federer’s 28.

Djokovic also leads Nadal 30-29 head to head and Federer 27-23 in career meetings and now boasts an unrivalled 36 grand slam final appearances.

Stop the fight.

But the oldest US Open champion in history insists he’s still far from finished.

“I don’t put any number right now in my mind on how many slams I want to win until the end of my career. I don’t really have any number,” Djokovic said.

“I’ll continue to prioritise them as my most important tournaments and where I want to play the best tennis.

“So that will not change. That will stay the same in the next season or I don’t know how many more seasons I have in my legs. So let’s see.

“I was probably not thinking so intensely and concretely about the history of the weeks at No.1 or most slams until maybe three years ago.

“Then I realised, OK, I’m quite close for weeks in No.1. I also have a pretty good chance at the grand slams (record) if I keep healthy and if I’m playing well.

“Of course the slams at that point seemed a little bit less reachable than weeks of No.1, but I believed. I believed that I’ll make it.”

Few others did when Djokovic, already banned from competing in the US unless he was jabbed against COVID-19, was thrown out of Australia on the eve of the first major of 2022 in Melbourne for entering the country while unvaccinated.

“I guess people have comeback stories,” Djokovic said in the glorious aftermath of his latest Big Apple victory.

“I love them too. They motivate me. Obviously different circumstances, Australia and here.”

Now the Melbourne Park king has the chance to surpass Court, ironically on the neighbouring Margaret Court Arena to where he has ruled Rod Laver Arena with an unrivalled 10 Open triumphs since 2008.

“I’m going to keep going,” Djokovic said.

“I feel good in my own body. I still feel I got the support of my environment, of my team, of my family.

“Grand slams, I have vocalised that in the last few years, have been always the highest goal and the priority of mine in the whole season. I don’t play as much in terms of other tournaments.

“So I try to prioritise my preparation so that I can peak in slams.”

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