Djokovic Wins Record-Breaking 23rd Grand Slam Title

John Simmons | June 12, 2023
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Novak Djokovic stands alone. 

The Serbian tennis superstar defeated Casper Ruud 7-6 (1), 6-3, 7-5 in the final of the 2023 French Open at Roland Garros. The tournament win was Djokovic’s 23rd Grand Slam title, making him the new record holder for most such titles in men’s tennis history.

Besides cementing his case as the best men’s tennis player to swing a racket, the victory has several added levels of vindication for the Serbian. Djokovic had claimed this was the hardest place for him to win a major tournament, a sentiment many other tennis players have echoed over the years.

"It's no coincidence that I should win my 23rd Grand Slam title here. This has been the hardest tournament for me to win throughout my career," Djokovic said. "I am beyond fortunate in my life to win 23 Grand Slams. It's an incredible feeling."

The title moved him one ahead of contemporary Rafael Nadal, whom he shares an intense rivalry with. Nadal just so happens to be the most successful man at the French Open (he won the title in 2022, ironically over Ruud), so setting the record on his rival’s favorite court is certainly fitting.

It’s also worth noting that Djokovic’s quest for the record took an extended pause. Last year, he missed two Grand Slam tournaments due to his COVID vaccine stance, which opened the door for Nadal to get a head start on the Serbian (the 2022 French Open was Nadal’s 22nd Grand Slam). When Djokovic was banned from the 2022 Australian Open, Nadal showed little sympathy for his rival.

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But at the time, Djokovic said that he was willing to miss out on opportunities to win so he could follow his convictions on the COVID vaccine. Part of that price was watching his rival win a the 2022 Australian Open, a tournament that he had dominated in a manner similar to what Nadal has achieved at Roland Garros.

“Yes, that is the price I am willing to pay,” Djokovic said. “The principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else. I'm trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can. I was never against vaccination (he'd had vaccines as a child), but I've always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body."

Just a year and a half later, after following his convictions and staying as determined as he’s ever been, he sits alone on tennis’ highest peak, leaving all of his rivals in his wake.

Djokovic is now the only man to win at least three titles at every Grand Slam event, and he has his sights set on more.

“The journey is still not over,” Djokoivc said. “If I’m winning slams, why even think about ending the career…I'm still motivated, I still feel inspired to play the best tennis on (Grand Slams)."

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