What a stunner. Novak Djokovic’s bid for the Calendar Slam (and even the Golden Calendar Slam) came to a shocking halt in a 7-6 (6), 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (5) defeat in the third round of Wimbledon to American Sam Querrey.
It’s hard coming up with an appropriate summation given how rare this occasion is, considering Djokovic hadn’t lost:
- At a Grand Slam in over a year, having won all four majors in a row
- At Wimbledon since 2013 (final to Andy Murray)
- Before the Wimbledon semifinals since 2009
- Before the quarterfinals at any Slam since the 2009 French Open
Building historic streaks mean they’ll end at some point, and ones he had snapped here include consecutive major titles (four, tied for most in the Open Era), finals (six, third in Open Era behind a pair of Roger Federer’s), semifinals (nine, fourth in Open Era) and quarterfinals (28, second in Open Era behind Federer), as well as consecutive wins at majors (30, an Open Era record).
Querrey, 28, shook off his career reputation — if just for a couple days — as someone who wilts under pressure, overcoming a blown lead in the first set tiebreaker on Friday and coming from behind to win the deciding fourth-set breaker (as well as breaking to stay in the fourth set). His serve bailed him out time and time again as Djokovic’s returning was not at his usual level, like many other parts of his game.
Upset of the tournament.
It's a thumbs up from Djokovic as Querrey ends the Serbian's calendar Grand Slam dream https://t.co/bvqh5u10Oh
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 2, 2016
The match had been halted due to weather (and impending darkness) on Friday with Querrey riding a wave of momentum over what appeared to be a wounded Djokovic, not moving like normal and failing at times to really plant and drive through shots from the baseline.
With a night for Querrey to stew on the moment at hand, many assumed Djokovic had been saved by the weather. Granted a reprieve, Djokovic looked refreshed on Saturday, jumping out to a 5-0 lead before a surprising stumble narrowed the third set final margin to 6-3.
Both players had break opportunities in the third, but Querrey’s failure to attack helped save Djokovic’s, while the American’s booming serve helped saved his own. Nole finally struck as Querrey cracked at 4-all, but a couple missed line calls (Djokovic was out of challenges) plus a fantastic passing shot from Querrey prevented a fifth set. Yet another rain delay hit with Djokovic serving to remain alive at 5-6, though thankfully that didn’t decide the match, as the World No. 1 held at love to force the breaker before coming up short.
A microcosm of the match for Djokovic? He lost as many tiebreaks against Querrey as he had all year (14-2 previously).
Barring an injury (he had grabbed at his shoulder area and later admitted some sort of issue but declined to expand, partly out of respect for Querrey), Djokovic’s loss has little greater bearing on his standing in the current landscape. Unlike his crushing defeat to Stan Wawrinka in the 2015 French Open final, there will be no doubt about his ability to rebound from a setback.
Historically, it does end what will surely be his best chance at winning all four Grand Slams in the same year, as well as his only shot at winning all the majors and Olympics singles gold, given that he’ll be 33 for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The prospects for all the other top names changes with Djokovic vacating his title, though that’s for a separate discussion. For now, love him or hate him, Djokovic’s loss, much like the Golden State Warriors losing in the NBA Finals, is a reminder that nothing is guaranteed even for those who make history. Djokovic holding all four Slams immediately after Serena Williams did the same (for a second time) should not allow us to forget that we may not see that feat replicated for a very, very long time.