A week after winning his second Grand Slam of the year, Novak Djokovic is getting ready to go again in pursuit of his third. The quicker-than-usual turnaround between the French Open and Wimbledon this year means there is little time for rest or proper preparation. The only grass tennis Djokovic will play before heading to Wimbledon is doubles in Mallorca this week.
But that will not impact his tag as favourite to win Wimbledon for a third time in a row.
If he does so then he will not only move level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 Grand Slam titles, but will move a step closer to completing the Golden Slam – all four majors and Olympic gold in the same year – which is a feat that has never been achieved by another male player. The last time Djokovic had the chance to do it he fell short, losing to Sam Querrey in the third round of Wimbledon in 2016 and then suffering a first-round loss to Juan Martin del Potro at the Rio Olympics.
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But Djokovic was in a different position that time. His win at the French Open in 2016 had seen him end his long quest for the career Grand Slam and he hinted that his motivation levels dipped after Paris. “Coming into Wimbledon, I knew that mentally it’s not going to be easy to kind of re-motivate myself.” This year the Golden Slam is the aim, not the French Open.
And right now it’s difficult to see who can stop him, with questions around most of the top contenders.
Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from Wimbledon and the Olympics after a busy clay season while Roger Federer’s form does not suggest he is ready to go the distance at a Grand Slam. John McEnroe said after seeing Federer reach the fourth round of the French Open that he is a “legit threat again to win Wimbledon”, yet with only eight matches played on the ATP Tour this year it will be an enormous challenge to win seven over two weeks. Federer also lost his most recent outing on the grass courts of Halle to Felix Auger-Aliassime, with the performance raising questions about his form.
Perhaps French Open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas or world No 2 Daniil Medvedev will make their first impressions on Wimbledon this year. Tsitsipas is yet to make it past the fourth round while Medvedev hasn’t progress past the third, but both have improved markedly since their last visits to SW19 in 2019. Medvedev, who is playing in Mallorca this week, downplayed his chances on clay over the last few months, but he thinks on grass he has the potential to improve.
"I like to play on grass, I just need to get some confidence in my game on the surface, because we didn’t play on it for two years. Two years ago, I was not the same player as I am right now. It is tough for me to say where I see myself, but I know I can play very good on this surface. I just need to find the right balance."
Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem might be in similar positions, with their lack of grass success so far in their careers perhaps partly due to a lack of time spent on the surface.
Daniil Medvedev beim ATP-Turnier in Halle
Image credit: Getty Images
But the fact the grass season has been shortened from three weeks to two this year will not help any of those in need of more time to get accustomed to the conditions.
Matteo Berrettini could be shaping up as Djokovic’s biggest threat after his impressive win at the Cinch Championships at Queen’s Club. Berrettini lost to Djokovic in four sets at the French Open but his powerful game could make him a threat at Wimbledon.
There will be big-hitters elsewhere in the draw who could trouble Djokovic, but he showed at the French Open that when he is dialled in he remains very difficult to beat. Lorenzo Musetti outhit Djokovic for two sets and Nadal raced into an early lead against him in their epic semi-final, but neither could match the world No 1 when he raised his level later in the contest.
Eurosport’s Mats Wilander thinks Djokovic has a point to prove this year.
“He wants to show to himself that he is super-human. And I think he is super-human when I see him play. I think his body can handle it. I actually feel he most probably needs to play matches to keep the intensity high - so this is a year where Novak can win the Golden Slam in my eyes.”
Winning the Golden Slam will take super-human efforts from Djokovic. The Tokyo Olympics start just two weeks after the Wimbledon final and there is then just one month before the US Open gets under way in New York. Despite the challenges ahead, Alex Corretja thinks it is a “huge opportunity” for Djokovic.
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“Not just because of Rafa and Roger not feeling unbelievable - it is just because what he did at Roland-Garros, which was like a big hit on the table to all his opponents,” the two-time French Open finalist told Eurosport.
“Everybody pretty much expected him to be great at the Australian Open. Everybody knew that he could be good at Roland-Garros, but I’m not so sure that everybody was expecting him to come up with such a great performance for so long in those matches where he came back two sets to last against [Lorenzo] Musetti, when he suffered against [Matteo] Berrettini and he let all his emotions out.
“That moment is when I felt I think Novak was ready because that was for me the moment that he showed that he had the hunger to do something big. Against Rafa, he kept the level of his game for nearly four hours, and I think that was the best example to show he was ready to win Roland-Garros.
"I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he completed the Grand Slam this year, winning both Wimbledon and the US Open, I think he is going to be very dangerous there.”
Wimbledon Power Rankings
1. Novak Djokovic
2. Daniil Medvedev
3. Matteo Berrettini
4. Roger Federer
5. Stefanos Tsitsipas
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Watch daily evening highlights on Eurosport 1, plus the men's and women's finals live on Eurosport 2. All coverage is also available to stream via eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app
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