Novak Djokovic has been compared to many things, but not in the same conversation as the two sporting figures who have left an indelible mark in their respective sports.
Djokovic has been called the best athlete by several pundits, and his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, believes he is the greatest sportsperson on the planet. Some people, even though uncharitably, liken him to a robot because of how meticulous and consistent he is in his craft.
The numbers don't lie. Djokovic is undoubtedly the greatest tennis player in history, even if that debate continues to rage on. He has won 24 Grand Slams (the most of any player), a record 40 Masters 1000 titles, and has been ranked World No. 1 for over 400 weeks.
In the past, Djokovic refrained from calling himself the greatest and left that debate up to the tennis fraternity, although he felt marginalized by the media because of his background and nationality. As he approaches 37, Djokovic is on the verge of becoming the oldest World No. 1 in ATP history.
French player Richard Gasquet is now 37 and believes his career is in the pits, having won three of his eight opening matches in 2024. Gasquet is outside the world's Top 100 and reckoned his form will go into a tailspin. But not Djokovic, who Gasquet praised in a recent interview with L'Equipe.
He opined that Djokovic's form is a quality that very few sportsmen have carried with them in their late career, highlighting NBA legend Michael Jordan and Argentina football superstar Lionel Messi as examples.
"It's bound to get worse (his form). Apart from Novak Djokovic, who is winning Grand Slams at almost 37 years old. Have we ever seen that in sports, except maybe (Michael) Jordan? (Lionel) Messi plays in Miami, the others in Saudi Arabia."
"He (Djokovic) is No. 1 in the world. I can't explain to myself that a guy like that is so strong at that age. At 37-38 years old, normally, you're much worse than at 25. You know that. At no point did I say to myself that I would play the year I turned 38. Unimaginable."