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Wimbledon: Beaten Djokovic fails to emulate Laver's Gram Slam heroics

By Eleanor Crooks

Published 04/07/2016

Under pressure: Novak Djokovic looked out-of-sorts at Wimbledon
Under pressure: Novak Djokovic looked out-of-sorts at Wimbledon

Rod Laver had hoped to pass on the Grand Slam mantle to Novak Djokovic.

The Australian great was the last man to complete the true Grand Slam, winning all four titles in one year, in 1969.

Djokovic became the first man since then to win four in a row by lifting the French Open trophy last month, but his hopes of emulating Laver once more were dashed by a shock third-round loss to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon.

Laver also won the Grand Slam in 1962 and was only the second man to achieve the feat after American Don Budge in 1938.

"I'm still happy to have the title, but I don't own it,'' Laver said. "I would have liked to have been at the US Open and be the first to shake Djokovic's hand if he did it. Don Budge did that for me in 1962 at Forest Hills.''

And Budge's message: "Welcome to an exclusive club."

Djokovic arrived at Wimbledon as the two-time defending champion and a clear favourite to make it three in a row.

His domination of tennis has been near total over the past 18 months but it appeared the mental strain of his extraordinary run finally caught up with him.

Laver, now 77, felt Djokovic may have subconsciously switched off a little having achieved his goal of winning the French for the first time and making it four in a row.

"He just wasn't himself, something was off,'' said Laver. "I think maybe he felt winning all four titles and being the defending champion of all four was a Grand Slam in his mind.

"And so even if it wasn't in the calendar year, it didn't matter. Way back in there somewhere you are thinking one thing, that it doesn't matter, but you are thinking it does matter. Those are two different thoughts to have when you are playing.''

Djokovic admitted he knew it would be tough to mentally motivate himself for another grand slam so soon after Roland Garros and he will now take a break from tennis for a few weeks.

The world number one confirmed he will not play in Serbia's Davis Cup quarter-final against Great Britain and may not compete again until the Olympics in August.

The 29-year-old said: "I believe in positive things. I managed to win four grand slams in a row. I want to try to focus on that rather than on failure.

"It's not the first time that I'm losing in a grand slam match, or any match for that matter. I know what to do. First thing's first: just to put my mind at ease and relax. I'll think about something different.

"Thankfully I have a family and I have a life outside of tennis. I have plenty of things to look forward to.

It's been a very successful year so far, but a very long one, exhausting one, in every sense of that word. I just need some rest.

"I'm going to move on from this hopefully as a stronger player."

Querrey, a 28-year-old American ranked 41, now turns his attention to a fourth-round clash with French grass-court specialist Nicolas Mahut today.

Belfast Telegraph

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