At this point in Novak Djokovic’s career, what assets does he still have to try to tip the debate over the greatest tennis player in history in his favor? Has he laid down all his cards yet?
At 36, the Djoker can still afford a strong argument at Wimbledon. This grass title could be the last demonstration he needs for his advocacy. And he knows it.
In early June, at Roland-Garros, the Serb won his 23rd major tournament title, a men’s record. Since then, he has made a truce. He saved himself. And finally, from Monday, he will return to the action and the lawn of the All England Lawn Tennis Club with the objective of destroying a myth.
He would then be ahead of Serena Williams in this chapter and would be tied with Margaret Court for the supreme record.
The opportunity is perfect. Djokovic has won his last 28 matches at Wimbledon, a streak dating back to 2017. His overall record for this tournament, you ask? 86-10. Not bad for the one who was the longest at the top of the men’s ranking in history.
What’s more, his two biggest rivals, who limited the Serbian’s damage on grass for years, are now just ghosts who can try to scare him away. Roger Federer, retired, and Rafael Nadal, absent until 2024, will not be able to stop him.
“Obviously Novak is the favorite to win Wimbledon. It’s clear,” said Carlos Alcaraz, after reclaiming the No. 1 ranking in the world last weekend. “But I will try to play at this level, to have a chance to beat him or reach the final at Wimbledon. »
When the world’s No. 1 player portrays himself as the underdog from the start, it says a lot about Djokovic’s dominance. However, even if he arrives fresh and ready, it will be the first tournament of the Serb this season on grass.
The last clash between the two men – at Roland-Garros – promised, until the injury of the 20-year-old Spaniard. Alcaraz weakened, the rest of the match did not live up to expectations.
Nevertheless, hopes rest on Alcaraz to stand up to the Djoker. The last two finalists, respectively Nick Kyrgios and Matteo Berrettini, are struggling with injuries and the one who pushed the Serb to the limit last year, Jannik Sinner, is in a rather slow period.
Stéfanos Tsitsipás, Holger Rune, Cameron Norrie or even Félix Auger-Aliassime could also try to stop Djokovic. The latter also won the first two Grand Slam tournament titles this season, just like in 2021. A victory at Wimbledon would allow him to take a step closer to the first Grand Slam calendar since 1969.
Only the United States Open would separate him from this feat, of which he is halfway.
Iga Świątek, the most impressive player on the circuit for a few months, will try to ward off bad luck. The world’s leading racquet has never been dominant on the grass surface, but for the second year in a row, it’s arriving with the wind in its sails. It only remains to be seen how she will recover from the fever and possible poisoning that forced her to withdraw from Bad Homburg on Friday.
Last year, she started the tournament on a streak of 35 victories before dropping the flag quickly in the third round. However, this year, she has changed her approach. After defending her title at Roland-Garros, the Pole did not take a break between the two major tournaments. She will try to get her hands on a fifth Grand Slam tournament title.
The powerful Elena Rybakina, defending champion, will in turn try to regain a major title. However, things are not going so well for the Kazakh, who has withdrawn from two of the last three tournaments due to a virus.
The same could be said of Ons Jabeur, vice-champion in title, who lost her only match on grass this season. It was against a player from qualifying in Berlin.
Young American Coco Gauff and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová will also be on the radar for what promises to be an unpredictable competition.
Félix Auger-Aliassime has an appointment with the American Michael Mmoh (119th in the world) in the first round. This is the first meeting between the two players.
Denis Shapovalov, 26th seed, will cross swords with Moldovan Radu Albot (106th in the world).
Milos Raonic, who recently withdrew from the Queen’s Club tournament due to shoulder pain, is set to face Austrian Dennis Novak (159th in the world).
Leylah Annie Fernandez must rub shoulders with the Ukrainian Kateryna Baindl, 206th in the world.
Bianca Andreescu, champion of the United States Open in 2019, will cross swords with the Hungarian Anna Bondár (50th in the world).
Rebecca Marino has an appointment with the Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu (29th in the world).
Carol Zhao, who qualified for the main draw on Thursday, will face Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch (120th in the world).