Tim Henman interview: Calendar Slam for Novak Djokovic would be an achievement with no rival across sport

 
Ross McLean
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Djokovic is the current holder of all four Grand Slams (Source: Getty)

Should Novak Djokovic complete the calendar Grand Slam and win all four major tournaments in the same year it would be an unrivalled feat across any sport, according to former British No1 Tim Henman.

World No1 Djokovic will bid for the third leg of his four-pronged quest for the Holy Grail when Wimbledon begins on Monday, having claimed a maiden French Open crown earlier this month and lifted the Australian Open in January.

The 29-year-old, who already holds all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously following triumphs in London and at the US Open last year, is the first man since Jim Courier in 1992 to claim the first two Majors of the season.

A fourth Wimbledon title would leave Djokovic with only his US Open crown to successfully defend in September for a place in history, which would make him the first man for nearly 50 years to net all four slams in the same year.

“The last person to win the calendar slam was Rod Laver in 1969 and three of those Grand Slams were on grass, so perhaps he didn’t have to deal with the changes in surface so much,” Henman told City A.M.

“If you’re looking at it now with hard courts, grass courts and clay courts, I don’t think there can be a bigger achievement in the game or in virtually any sport, particularly an individual sport.

“He’s halfway there and he’s got a long way to go but if anyone can do it right now, it’s Djokovic. He’s playing such incredible tennis that you wouldn’t put it past him.

“Things have still got to go his way, he has got to stay fit and healthy, but I think it’s a realistic possibility.”

This summer’s Olympics in Rio present Djokovic with the opportunity for the Golden Slam – all four Majors and the singles’ title at the Games – a feat only ever achieved by Germany’s Steffi Graff in 1988.

Securing the Golden Slam would mean Djokovic dethroning world No2 Andy Murray, who won the Olympic title at London 2012, while the Briton backed that up with a Wimbledon crown 12 months later.

Murray’s two Grand Slam successes – he won the 2012 US Open – came under the tutelage of coach Ivan Lendl, and the duo reunited earlier this month after a two-year hiatus.

Defeat at the French Open was Murray’s fifth loss to Djokovic in a Grand Slam final, although Henman believes the presence of Lendl could be an asset for the Scot against his arch-nemesis.

“It’s not about a coach trying to teach a player how to hit a new shot, it’s much more about strategy and probably the psychology of some of the bigger matches,” added Henman.

“That’s where Lendl had a big impact when they worked together before and I think that’s what Andy will feel he can benefit from.

“In the biggest tournaments, Djokovic has got the edge over everyone so I think that is where Lendl could have an impact but the most important thing is Andy keeps playing well and improving.

“He’s in a great place, mentally and physically, and if he can keep doing the right things I’ve always said he can win more grand slams.”

Djokovic’s victory at Roland Garros represented a 12th Grand Slam title, five behind Roger Federer’s pioneering total of 17, while Rafael Nadal has 14 – a strength of opponent which Henman concedes has stifled Murray’s tally.

“If he stopped tomorrow Andy’s had an unbelievable career and I think it is relevant when you think of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, they have won 43 Grand Slams between them,” said Henman.

“No other era has come even remotely close to that and that emphasises how hard it has been for him to win events.

“Andy has two Grand Slams and Olympic gold, but on the flipside, to have been a runner-up in eight Grand Slams, he really is incredible close to winning more.

“He obviously wants more because of his dedication, work ethic and the decisions he makes, like employing Lendl.

“It’s absolutely clear cut that he believes and wants more, and at 29 he has still got some good years ahead of him.”

Tim Henman was speaking at The Jaguar Championships as part of Jaguar’s partnership with David Lloyd Leisure. Visit http://www.jaguar.co.uk/jaguar-range/f-pace/index.html to find out more about the F-PACE, the Official Car of The Championships, Wimbledon