Djokovic chases history at Flushing Meadows

Djokovic goes for calender year Grand Slam in U.S. Open

Novak Djokovic

In the game of Blackjack, 21 is the magic number. So will it be for two multiple Grand Slam champions at this year’s U.S. Open.

Yes, in Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the tennis year’s final major will have the two legends each looking to add Slam No. 21 to their resumes on the hard courts of USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens, N.Y. It would have been three had Roger Federer, also with 20 Slams, not been forced to exit the tournament with a knee injury.

But for Djokovic, there is another mark at hand. With victories this year in the Australian and French Opens and Wimbledon, he can become just the third male player to win all four Slams in a calendar year, after Don Budge in 1938 and Rod Laver in 1969.

After winning the Aussie handily in February, the 34-year-old Serb was met by a worthy adversary in Paris in June, as he had to rally from two sets down against No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in a dramatic comeback win. Then at Wimbledon, he took Slam No. 19 with a methodical takedown of Matteo Berrettini in the final in July.

After a disappointing showing at the Tokyo Olympics in which he failed to medal, the man known as “The Joker” took time off to be rested for his date with history.

And that comes Monday, Aug. 30, when Djokovic will take on all comers in the 2021 U.S. Open, which airs for the next two weeks on ESPN and ESPN2.

Player Profile

Name: Novak Djokovic

Birth date: May 22, 1987

Birthplace: Belgrade, Serbia

Height/weight: 6 feet 2 inches/176 pounds

Residence: Monte Carlo

Family ties: He and wife Jelena have a son and a daughter

Career singles record: 972-197

Honors and achievements: Nine-time Australian Open champion (2008, 2011-13, 2015, 2016, 2019-21); two-time French Open champion (2016, 2021); six-time Wimbledon champion (2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021); three-time U.S. Open champion (2011, 2015, 2018); five-time Tour Finals champion (2008, 2012-15); Olympic gold medal (2008)

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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