Novak Djokovic's greatest wins: Australian Open, Wimbledon, Roland Garros

After Novak Djokovic beat Casper Ruud to reach 1,000 career wins at tour level, Andy Schooler looks back on 10 of his most famous victories.

Novak Djokovic not only progressed to the Italian Open final, but also made tennis history as he became just the fifth player in the Open Era to reach 1,000 victories. 

The current world number one needed just an hour and 43 minutes to power his way past promising youngster Casper Ruud, winning the match in straight sets 6-4 6-3.

The 34-year-old joins an elite club which includes Rafael Nadal, Ivan Lendl, Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors.

Djokovic will now target his 87th career title when he takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday's Italian Open final.

Arnaud Clement, Bucharest, first round, 2004 - 2-6 6-4 6-4

Djokovic claimed his first win in his second match on the ATP Tour. Having qualified, the 17-year-old found himself up against the 2001 Australian Open finalist and showed what would become his trademark fighting spirit by coming from a set down on the Romanian clay.

In doing so, the world number 272 covered a ranking gap of more than 200 places.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Australian Open, final, 2008 - 4-6 6-4 6-3 7-6

In many ways, Tsonga was the story of the 2008 Australian Open, a tournament which, at the time, regularly threw up surprise finalists.

I remember the criticism of Andy Murray which followed his first-round defeat to the Frenchman, although that result was given a different perspective once Tsonga had stormed through the draw, largely thanks to his crunching forehand and much to the delight of the Melbourne fans who loved his enthusiastic celebrations. But Djokovic would prove too good in this final.

While Tsonga started the better, the Serb bided his time and when he claimed the second set, he had wrested control. There was to be no let-up and the first of a record nine Australian Open titles was claimed.

Some will say Djokovic's semi-final win over Roger Federer should also be on this list. It was arguably the day the balance of power began to shift towards Djokovic in the men's game, Federer's remarkable run of 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals coming to end.

John Isner, Davis Cup, first round, 2010 - 7-5 3-6 6-3 6-7 6-4

Serbia's 2010 Davis Cup success is widely credited with helping Djokovic become the world's dominant player - his 2011 season is considered one of the greatest in the sport's history - but it might not have happened had he lost this contest.

Showing his propensity for clay, Isner refused to lie down in front of a partisan Belgrade crowd and pushed the hometown hero all the way.

When he took the fourth set tie-break, an upset was very much on the cards but Djokovic steeled himself and broke immediately in the fifth. It proved the decisive factor.

The win clinched victory in the tie and eight months later Serbia were crowned Davis Cup champions for the first time, Djokovic winning two rubbers against France, including a must-win encounter with Gael Monfils on the final day.

Roger Federer, US Open, semi-final, 2011 - 6-7 4-6 6-3 6-2 7-5

Arguably the most famous shot of Djokovic's career came in this match - a clean forehand winner on return of serve. It wasn't simply the quality of the shot but throw in the timing and it becomes legendary.

Djokovic found himself match points down, trailing 3-5, 15-40 in the final set. The Serb admitted afterwards he had nothing to lose at that stage and "closed my eyes and went for it". It worked. The sensational winner came on the first match point and a second was then saved.

Federer, who had also been two sets up, didn't win another game. What made the win all the more remarkable is the fact Djokovic had also saved two match points against Federer in their 2010 semi-final.

Rafael Nadal, Australian Open, final, 2012 - 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7 7-5

Possibly destined to go down as the most famous match of Djokovic's career, this remains the longest Grand Slam final ever played. It lasted five hours and 53 minutes - the fact the players were given chairs for the presentation ceremony said much.

The match itself ebbed and flowed as two of the all-time greats battled away from the baseline in some sensational rallies. Nadal drew first blood but Djokovic fought back and looked poised for a four-set win when he moved to 0-40 on the Spaniard's serve when leading 4-3 in the fourth.

Yet Nadal is also known for his mental toughness and he pulled out that game before coming from 5-3 down to win the resultant tie-break. The momentum had swung and it was Nadal who broke first in the decider to lead 4-2.

However, a now-famous, mid-court backhand miss at 30-15 in the following game let Djokovic back in and he didn't waste his second life, breaking again in the 11th game before serving out for the title. It was 1.37am.

Stan Wawrinka, Australian Open, fourth round, 2013 - 1-6 7-5 6-4 6-7 12-10

Djokovic's warrior-like tendencies were on full show in this match, one which will live long in the memory of those who saw it. Blitzed by Wawrinka's early barrage of strong serves and sumptuous backhands, Djokovic trailed 6-1 5-2 before turning things around.

Wawrinka did well to refocus and take the contest into a decider - something which didn't look likely when Djokovic's fightback was in full flow - but he will probably regret missed opportunities in that set to this day.

The Swiss held break points at 4-4 but failed to convert and as the tension rose he was the first to crack with Djokovic claiming an epic victory after more than five hours on court. It is one of four matches in the Serb's career to have hit the five-hour mark. He has won them all.

Andy Murray, French Open, final, 2016 - 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-4

Certainly not a match as dramatic or as memorable as many on this list but it certainly deserves its place, simply for what it delivered in terms of Djokovic's legacy.

In coming from a set down, Djokovic not only clinched the career Grand Slam but became only the second man to hold all four major titles at the same time.

Murray had a chance to go a set and a break up at the start of the second but that steely resolve of the Serb was once again on show.

He did get a little tight as the finish line drew into sight but he staved off several break points in the fourth set to rewrite the tennis history books once again.

Rafael Nadal, Wimbledon, semi-final, 2018 - 6-4 3-6 7-6 3-6 10-8

Djokovic may have won six Wimbledon finals but in terms of pure quality of tennis, this semi arguably stands out above his other matches in SW19.

It is easy to forget the travails that Djokovic endured following the completion of his career Grand Slam (see above) but it had been almost two years since he'd won a major semi-final at the time of this clash.

Winning it undoubtedly gave him renewed momentum in the chase to become the most-decorated male player. The match was not without controversy.

Split across two days, the first stanza was played under the lights on the Friday evening but when play resumed the following day it did so with the roof still across - despite the fact the sun was out above Centre Court.

Both players had to agree to remove it and Djokovic did not - the rule has since been changed. As the winners flowed, Nadal forced a decider and he had chances to finish the job, moving to 15-40 on the Djokovic serve at both 4-4 and 7-7.

However, Djokovic was the more ruthless - when his chance came in the 18th game, he struck on his first match point to seal victory after five hours and 15 minutes. There was little sign of tiredness the next day as he crushed Kevin Anderson to win the title.

Roger Federer, Wimbledon, final, 2019 - 7-6 1-6 7-6 4-6 13-12

It's long been said that the sport's top players are the ones who play the big points the best so this is further evidence for those who tout Djokovic as the greatest of all time.

Once again, Djokovic faced down match points against Federer, although the difference this time was these were championship points. Having broken to lead 8-7, Federer moved 40-15 up.

The second match point is the one best remembered. Federer came into the net behind an approach which wasn't good enough and was passed by the Djokovic forehand. He'll regret that move to this day.

Forty minutes later, the Serb played a near-perfect match tie-break to deny Federer what would have been a 21st Grand Slam title.

The Swiss will probably never have another chance to get there. The four-hour, 57-minute match had swung one way and then the other amid a raucous atmosphere on Centre Court. But it will forever be remembered for the final-set drama.

Rafael Nadal, French Open, semi-final, 2021 - 3-6 6-3 7-6 6-2

Nadal's dominance of Roland Garros is one of the most remarkable aspects of the current Golden Era of men's tennis and beating him in his 'own back yard' has been nigh on impossible.

But Djokovic produced a marvellous performance to do just that - all after losing in the opening five games of the match. The retrieval skills of both men was nothing short of sensational with things peaking in a third set which Djokovic led 5-3, saved set point in at 5-6 and eventually took on the tie-break.

In a time of COVID curfews, the crowd was given special dispensation to stay and watch Djokovic complete a four-set victory as Nadal wilted physically - a rare sight. "(It was) definitely the best match that I was part of ever in Roland Garros," said the victor.

"And top three matches that I ever played in my entire career, considering quality of tennis, playing my biggest rival on the court where he has had so much success and the atmosphere, which was completely electric."

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