Pete Sampras: Novak’s season best I’ve seen in my lifetime

Photo: AP

Speaking ahead of an ATP Champions circuit event in South Florida last week, Pete Sampras heralded Nole’s current season as the best he’s ever seen.

“At least in my lifetime, the best ever”, Sampras told the Palm Beach Post. He also labeled it “one of the best achievements in all of sports.”

Djokovic’s mental approach has been the key, the 14-time Grand Slam champion said.

“I always thought Novak was a bit temperamental and would go through these lapses that would prevent him from winning majors”, Sampras said. “And now you look – he lost the first two sets against Roger and boom! He recovered within a couple of minutes. He’s got a short memory now. He’s progressed into this great champion.”

This year Nole has a 64-3 record and has won 10 titles including three Grand Slam events.

Just nine months ago, everyone was asking how anyone was going to beat Rafael Nadal. Now, witnessing one of the greatest individual seasons in tennis history, the tennis world is asking the same question about Djokovic.

The Serbian star won three of this year’s four majors, two in finals against his predecessor Rafael Nadal.

John McEnroe also paid tribute to Nole for winning his third Grand Slam title of the season and putting together what McEnroe calls “the greatest year in the history of our sport”.

“Novak has taken tennis to new heights”, said the American.

Coming from McEnroe, who himself put together a 82-3 record in 1984, it is quite a statement.

“Djokovic is having the greatest year in the history of our sport, there’s no doubt about it”, he said. “He bewildered Nadal. I’ve never seen Nadal look as if he doesn’t know what to do – and even on clay in Rome Djokovic made him look like that.”

“Wimbledon was where he separated himself and took himself to a whole new level. He beat Nadal six times in one year and, considering the year Nadal had in 2010, that’s pretty hard to do.”

“Just as a single season, I think Djokovic’s season is the best since Laver in 1969”, said Patrick McEnroe, the commentator and former USA Davis Cup captain.

Only five other men in the Open era have won three majors in a season, and of those, Laver was the only one to sweep all four.

Unquestionably great players like Pete Sampras, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe never won more than two major tournaments in a year.

“Novak has two guys who have won double-digit majors, and they are both healthy, and he’s still dominating them”, said Jim Courier, the United States Davis Cup captain and a former world no.1. “That’s what’s most impressive about this season, probably.”

Federer did not have two men of his stature to manhandle at his peak. Djokovic has two players of superior stature to underscore his state of grace. “That’s why this feels more astounding to me”, Courier said.

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