Novak Djokovic back on top of the world after completing remarkable turnaround

Serbia's Novak Djokovic's return to the world number one spot, just five months after slumping to his lowest ranking in 12 years, leaves little doubt that he is one of the sport’s greats. (AFP)
Updated 05 November 2018
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Novak Djokovic back on top of the world after completing remarkable turnaround

  • Djokovic now just three behind Nadal’s total of 17 Grand Slams and six shy of Roger Federer’s 20
  • Djokovic enjoys a lifetime 25-22 record over Federer and 27-25 against Nadal

PARIS: Novak Djokovic’s return to the world number one spot, just five months after slumping to his lowest ranking in 12 years, leaves little doubt that he is one of the sport’s greats.
The Serb is back on the top of the pile for the first time in two years, at the end of a roller-coaster season for the 14-time major winner.
Djokovic, 31, underwent elbow surgery in January and slipped to 22nd in the world after a depressing quarter-final exit at Roland Garros in June, which left him briefly threatening to skip Wimbledon.
But he regrouped, romped to a fourth Wimbledon title the following month, a 32nd Masters in Cincinnati and then a third triumph at the US Open in September.
Despite his loss in the final of the Paris Masters to Karen Khachanov on Sunday — which ended a 22-match win streak — his record since the start of Wimbledon stands at 31-2.
“Reflecting on what I’ve been through in the last year, it’s quite a phenomenal achievement,” said Djokovic, who has knocked Rafael Nadal from the world top spot.
“I’m very, very happy and proud about it. Five months ago, it was highly improbable considering my ranking and the way I played and felt on the court.”
Djokovic is now just three behind Nadal’s total of 17 Grand Slams and six shy of Roger Federer’s record of 20.
But he has time on his side — Federer has already celebrated his 37th birthday while injury-plagued Nadal is 32.
Furthermore, Djokovic enjoys a lifetime 25-22 record over Federer and 27-25 against Nadal.
“Novak has everything to make records in this sport,” said Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro after losing to Djokovic in the US Open final.
Djokovic’s ability to thrive among the greats has never been in doubt, but the size of his heart often led to questions in his early days.
At Wimbledon in 2007, he retired with a back injury in the third set of his semifinal against Nadal.
He also quit at the 2006 and 2007 French Opens at the third round and quarter-final stages respectively, while at the 2009 Australian Open, where he was defending champion, he pulled out of his quarter-final with Andy Roddick citing heat exhaustion.
But nobody could question his courage at the 2012 Australian Open, when he beat Nadal in the longest Grand Slam final of all time, a draining 5hr 53min epic.
Djokovic captured the first of his majors in Melbourne in 2008, but it was three years before he added his second.
After leading Serbia to a maiden Davis Cup in 2010, he raced through the first half of 2011, building up a 48-1 winning run.
Only a semifinal defeat at the French Open prevented him from becoming just the third man to capture a calendar Grand Slam.
He finished 2011 with a 70-6 win-loss record, a haul of 10 tournament victories and the year-end number one spot for the first time.
Back-to-back Australian Opens followed in 2012 and 2013, although three heart-breaking final defeats kept the French Open frustratingly out of reach until 2016, when his breakthrough win at Roland Garros allowed him to complete his career Slam.
In Paris that year, he also became the first player to break through the $100 million (87.8 million euro) prize money barrier.
Djokovic has also not been afraid to take chances and innovate his game, bringing in Boris Becker as part of his coaching team for the start of the 2014 season, although he has since reunited with long-time mentor Marian Vajda.
Off court, Djokovic married long-time girlfriend Jelena Ristic in July 2014. They have two children, a son Stefan and daughter Tara.
However, despite his achievements, Djokovic appears doomed never to be held in the same warm esteem as Federer and Nadal.
There are those who see something a little more calculating in the Djokovic make-up.
He was castigated during the 2015 French Open semifinals for taking an eight-minute medical time-out after dropping the third set to Andy Murray, and at Indian Wells the next year he was roundly criticized for suggesting that men should “fight” to get more prize money than women.
“The stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches,” he said.
At Wimbledon this year, he hit out at some Center Court fans for a perceived lack of respect while schedulers also felt his ire for exiling him to Court Two for a third round match.
Despite the doubts, the plaudits were generous on Monday.
“What Novak has achieved this season has to go down as one of the great sporting comebacks,” said ATP president Chris Kermode.


Saudi Arabia enjoy more golden success at Special Olympics

Updated 19 March 2019
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Saudi Arabia enjoy more golden success at Special Olympics

  • Kingdom's athletes claim three golds, one silver and three bronzes on day four in Abu Dhabi.
  • Saudi Arabia medal tally now up to an impressive 25.

LONDON: Saudi Arabia enjoyed another good day at the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi winning three golds, one silver and three bronzes to take their medal tally to an impressive 25 after four days.
Abdulaziz Alharthi got the day off to a great start in the pool, the 17-year-old from Jeddah picking up gold in the men’s 25m freestyle.
That was then followed up with the second gold of the day as Mohammed Alolayan powered home in the 5,000m. It was his second medal of the Games after he took home a bronze in the triathlon.
Moayed Aldarwish completed the hat-trick of golds coming home first in the 400m.


That was not the end of the success for the Kingdom as Fares Almateq and Naif Alshammari won silver in the men’s doubles table tennis. This was Fares’ second win of the week, having impressively won gold in the men’s singles event earlier.
Heba Shawli then became another multiple-medal winner when she took home the bronze in the softball throw event — she having won gold in the 25m run event.
Faisal Algosaibi and Faris Khouj, also part of the 4x100m freestyle relay team, each won bronze in their division of the 25m freestyle swimming.


Other winners of multiple medals include Hassan Alhadhariti, who won three golds and one silver in powerlifting; Sara Felemban and Jana Albeshri, who both won silver in bocce women’s singles and women’s team events, and Shahad Sunbul, who won silver in the bocce women’s team event and bronze in the bocce women’s singles event.