Novak Djokovic jokes about his age at the Australian Open
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The debate over tennis’ greatest of all time continues to rage as Novak Djokovic advances his efforts to take over as the most prolific Grand Slam champion in history. However, there’s one field in particular where the Serb has already left all competition in his wake.
‘Nole’ has dominated much of the major scene for the past decade or so and currently sits level with Rafael Nadal on a joint-record 22 Grand Slam trophies. The pair have surpassed retired Roger Federer, who became the first man to collect 20 major titles, but the head-to-head is no longer even close when it comes to cash accrued on the ATP Tour.
After seeing his earnings boosted by a record-extending 10th title at the Australian Open in January, Djokovic has raked in a ridiculous sum of $166,861,716 (about £139m) on-court alone. That’s without taking into account the 35-year-old’s many endorsements or sponsorship deals with the likes of Lacoste and Uniqlo over the years.
To put that sum into context, second-place Nadal has procured closer to £112m, some £27m less than Djokovic. That’s equivalent to winning Wimbledon 13 times on the current pay scale, or 16 Australian Opens given the Melbourne major’s top prize is worth slightly less.
It says a lot about Federer’s former prowess that he barely played in the two years prior to his retirement last season and is still only just behind Nadal on £108.5m career earnings. The Swiss star’s final Grand Slam win came at the Australian Open in early 2018, while a runner-up finish at Wimbledon 2019 ended up being his last such appearance in a final.
There’s then a steep drop-off in the ATP’s money list, with fourth-placed Andy Murray having accumulated £53m over the course of his career, less than half of Federer’s total. Pete Sampras—who retired two decades ago—completes the men’s top five with £36m to his credit, illustrating just how dominant the ‘Big Three’ have been during the modern era.
As well as winning a hefty £1.7m payday in his return to Rod Laver Arena, Djokovic announced his Australian comeback by winning the Adelaide Open earlier in January. It may not compare with the sport’s ‘Big Four’ events, but the £79,000 grand prize was a healthy addition to his balance nonetheless after besting Sebastian Korda.
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The same can be said for Nadal’s £92,000 injection despite exiting the Australian Open at Mackenzie McDonald’s hands in the second round. That’s in addition to the £167,000 pay cheque he earned for two round-robin defeats in the inaugural United Cup, with the Spaniard still yet to gain much momentum this season due to injury.
That being said, the 14-time French Open-winner will soon return to his stomping ground at Roland Garros if all goes to plan in his latest recovery. The money game may be Djokovic’s domain judging by pure numbers alone, but Paris is one location where the terrain is tilted in Nadal’s favour.
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