A seemingly invincible Novak Djokovic playing some of the best tennis of his career at 36 heads to Wimbledon seeking to tighten his stranglehold on the men’s game and its next generation by winning a record-extending 24th Grand Slam crown.
The Serbian scaled the summit by claiming his 23rd major at the French Open earlier this month, staving off younger rivals including the ailing Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals and Casper Ruud in the title clash.
Djokovic, who leapfrogged the injured Rafa Nadal in the all-time men’s majors list, has won 11 of his 13 Grand Slam finals after turning 30 and the defending Wimbledon champion is in no mood to slow down on the biggest stage.
“Of course, the journey is still not over,” Djokovic said following his Paris success. “I feel if I’m winning Grand Slams why even think about ending the career that already has been going on for 20 years.
“So I still feel motivated, still feel inspired to play the best tennis in these tournaments the most – Grand Slams. Those are the ones that count I guess the most in the history of our sport. I look forward already to Wimbledon.”
With Nadal out for the rest of the year, last year’s runner-up Nick Kyrgios battling for fitness and world number one Alcaraz inexperienced on grass despite his Queen’s Club success, few will look past Djokovic as favourite to lift the trophy.
The Serbian’s only limitation could be a lack of practice in another stop-start season, with the exhibition tournament at Hurlingham his only tune-up for the year’s third Grand Slam.
Djokovic has triumphed at the All England Club in the last four editions, excluding 2020 when the grasscourt Grand Slam was not held due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and has a chance to now equal Roger Federer’s men’s record of eight Wimbledon titles.
The Australian Open champion can also take another big step towards completing a calendar Grand Slam – winning all four majors in a year – having fallen short in 2021 after losing the U.S. Open final to Daniil Medvedev.
Those achievements could further cement Djokovic’s status as the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) in the eyes of his fans, pundits and many former players.
His former coach Boris Becker, however, has no doubt the ageless Serbian is already in a league of his own.
“Every generation had its stars. It would be unfair to now say one is better than the other. But in any case, he’s the most successful,” former Wimbledon champion Becker said.
“That determination, ambition, passion. What we have seen in the end, how easily he beats the guys. The young guys are tired, not the 36-year-old.
“That’s extraordinary … 23 Grand Slams in an era where we had Federer, Nadal not to mention Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka. No one would have expected this from him, except himself.
“He spoke about this dream he had as a boy. I believe that dream is far from being dreamt to its end.”
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