Can Novak Djokovic match Roger Federer's grand slam haul?

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    (CNN)In sports, tennis included, hyperbole is never far away.

    When a young upstart makes a maiden grand slam final and loses, for instance, one of the phrases to inevitably surface is: "They'll win one someday."
      Given the number of players who have triumphed at a major, statistics don't back up such a statement.
      After Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer to claim a third Wimbledon and ninth major Sunday, one former professional suggested that the possibility of the world No. 1 matching -- or even surpassing -- the Swiss' imposing record of 17 grand slam titles shouldn't be dismissed.
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      "He's in his prime and I think that he can stay at the top of the game for another five or six years," Tim Henman, a six-time grand slam semifinalist, was quoted as saying by the Belfast Telegraph. "If you think of those opportunities in the grand slams, if it's five years, it's 20. And I see him adding to this collection very, very soon."
      Henman, Federer's pal, certainly isn't prone to exaggeration. He was notably cautious with words when he carried the British torch prior to Andy Murray.
      And with others backing Djokovic to stockpile titles at tennis' four most prestigious tournaments, hyperbole, in this case, could be replaced by reality.
      What does Djokovic himself say about potentially catching Federer or fellow "Big Four" member Rafael Nadal, who owns 14 grand slam titles?
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      "I don't want to say it's too early to talk about it because it's probably the right time to talk about it but I'm still far, far away from that," Djokovic told a small group of reporters at the All England Club on Monday, the morning after he showcased his dancing skills with Serena Williams at Wimbledon's annual Champions Dinner.
      "Winning one grand slam, I know what it takes -- it's a lot of effort, and a lot of things have to come together.
      "So to reach these two guys would be something incredible, but honestly I'm not thinking about it now."
      Djokovic is on course to win three grand slams in a year for the second time in his career. And whereas there was a time when he struggled in grand slam finals, he has emerged victorious in three of his last four to improve to 9-8 overall.
      In the one he recently lost -- at last month's French Open -- lady luck didn't snuggle up alongside Djokovic.
      He didn't benefit from the customary day off between the semifinal and finale, which was far from ideal preparation. Had he overcome Stan Wawrinka, Djokovic and Williams would both be seeking the calendar-year grand slam at the U.S. Open.
      Despite being the oldest man in the Open Era to tally his ninth grand slam -- four years older than Nadal and three years older than Federer -- tennis' landscape is now working in Djokovic's favor. He won't have to contend with the pair in their prime.
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      As consistently great as Federer has been in the past decade, he turns 34 next month and last bagged a grand slam in 2012.
      Even though he captured a major more recently than Federer, Nadal is, by his own admission, in a slump.
      No one should be writing him off yet -- such is his pedigree and will -- but Nadal's most successful days appear to be behind him.
      As for Murray -- the fourth member of the "Big Four" -- challenging him, Djokovic has won eight straight matches against his childhood friend.
      It's no wonder then that Federer -- who doesn't particularly like Djokovic, according to the latter's coach, Boris Becker -- predicted continued success for his now main rival.
      "He's clearly making a big name for himself having won as many times now as he has in these different slams," the world No. 2 told reporters following the final. "Clearly he's going to be one of the top guys. Where, we'll still have to wait and see. I'm sure he still has many more great years ahead of him."
      John McEnroe, the ever opinionated three-time Wimbledon winner, added to the BBC: "If (Djokovic) stays healthy, he is going to dominate the next couple of years."
      Besides his talent and gentle movement, one of the reasons for Federer's longevity remains his love of the game and acceptance of the less pleasing aspects of being a tennis player -- such as the incessant traveling and being away from home.
      Djokovic resembles Federer in that respect.
      "I just enjoy playing tennis," said Djokovic. "I love it. I love competing. It's a big part of my life and what I do. I've been doing it my entire life. That's what I know the best.
      "Today I find it easy to motivate myself with the people around me -- my closest family, team and of course many people that support me. That's also a responsibility for me to keep going and bring joy to myself and to these people. As a 28-year-old I feel I have many years ahead of me.
      "Right now I still have this flare inside of me and passion and love for the sport and I enjoy coming out on the practice court and repetitively doing the same things, which sometimes aren't very pleasant but which allow you to be in a position to fight for these trophies."
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      If Djokovic conquers Flushing Meadows in September, he would become the fifth man in the Open Era to reach double digits in majors.
      His form dictates he'll be the man to beat, and many would argue he merits a second crown: Entering 2015, Djokovic compiled more wins at the U.S. Open than at any other grand slam. He's advanced to at least the semifinals every year since 2007 but with only one title to show for it, in 2011.
      "Obviously the confidence level is very, very high and I'm going to try to use that to prepare as best as I can and have a very good U.S. Open and have a shot at the title," he said.
      "If you look at the consistency of the results of the U.S. Open I think that's probably my best grand slam. I like the surface, conditions, I like playing on Arthur Ashe (stadium), it's the biggest stadium in our sport. With all the achievements this year so far behind me I think I'm in a very good position to go far."
      No one would disagree.