There's no denying it, there's no underselling it, and there's no overshadowing it: Right now, we are deep into the Novak Djokovic Era in men's tennis, and there is no end in sight.
Every time you count the Serb out, every time you think that it's time for his star to fade, that it's time for Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer or the next generation of stars to take over the stage, he proves that they are merely cameos and supporting stars in today's game. He is the headlining act. He is the one to beat. He is the No. 1.
On Sunday at the All England Club, Djokovic won his third Wimbledon title, his ninth Slam overall, by defeating a seemingly destiny-bound Roger Federer in the final, 7-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3. He made what started out as a highly contested and fantastically suspenseful affair feel routine by the end, even lackluster.
With this win, he made it clear that he is not anywhere near done chasing history.
Djokovic now sits alone at fifth on the list of all-time major winners in the Open Era. He's surpassed legends like Ivan Lendl and Andre Agassi and Jimmy Connors. And he's doing it in an era when all of the greatness was supposed to be used up by a Spanish bull and Swiss maestro. He's making a place for himself in record books despite the fact that he really wasn't supposed to.
He especially wasn't supposed to heighten his place in history this fortnight, not after suffering a devastating loss to Stan Wawrinka in the French Open final last month. Paris was supposed to be the place where he cemented his legacy, but without that victory, he was supposed to be lost and confused, soul searching and reeling.
That's what most of the public was still doing, at least. Trying to figure out what his loss to Wawrinka meant and where Djokovic would go from here.
Meanwhile, the Serb merely picked himself up off the ground and regrouped. There was no need to go back to the drawing board. There was no need to reinvent the wheel, particularly since the wheel had a 4,000-point lead at No. 1 and had won every big event in 2015 prior to Paris.
At the end of the day, Djokovic took the loss at the French Open for what it was: an outlier. He hadn't played poorly, he'd just been outplayed by a talented guy playing out-of-his-mind tennis. That's going to happen from time to time. We might have panicked, but he didn't. That takes a remarkable level of self-belief and talent.
It shouldn't have been surprising that he was capable of being that resilient, and yet somehow, it still was.
The truth is, the public at large has never really known what to make of Djokovic. We've made him into much more of an enigma than he really is by trying to stuff him into a back-up role in this generation of men's tennis.
He's been showing us that he's capable of being the best since his early days. He's never shied away from stating his lofty goals or taking down the biggest stars. He's been fearless since the start. Perhaps we've been the ones afraid of his potential, afraid of what it would mean for the clearly-defined legacies of "Fedal," who seemed to complement each other so completely.
Djokovic's always been a guy who wears his emotions on his sleeves, for good or for bad. There was a brief period where this conflicted with his innate desire to be adored, and he attempted to bottle everything up. That didn't work for him, or for his tennis. So now, Djokovic lets it out, just like he did after he lost the second set of the final against Federer on Sunday.
He had blown six set points in the tiebreaker, and let his frustration flow on the changeover. It looked like he might be losing control of the plot, like this might be his breaking point, like all of the pressure and the disappointments might be getting to him.
Instead, it was the turning point. He just had to let out those emotions. He just had to be himself. After that, he was able to practically roll through the next two sets.
Djokovic is a crowd pleaser who sometimes masquerades as a villain. He's a brash player fueled by innate insecurity. He's a delicate balance of offense and defense that creates a force field too strong for anything less than extraordinary to penetrate.
He's complicated, but he's not mysterious. It's just that we don't often look at him or his accomplishments long enough to take it all in. If this Wimbledon showcased anything, it's that it's beyond time for that to change.
The reality is, Federer is aging and Nadal is struggling. Both will have great moments in the future, there is no doubt about it, but they are not in their prime right now. Andy Murray seems poised to be a force again, but how steady of a force is TBD. Guys like Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic will be dangers on any given day, but only if they play at a peak level. And the future stars, such as Nick Kyrgios and Borna Coric, have a long way to go before the future becomes the present.
Djokovic is our leader now, and he has been for the better part of the past four years. He's the one forcing everyone else to step up their games, bouncing back better than ever after every setback, and steamrolling ahead in the history books as the others tread water. He is raising the bar.
While he's still firmly in his prime, the Djokovic Era won't last forever -- no era ever does. So it's time to stop fighting it and start appreciating it. It's a pretty stunning sight to behold.