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Federer? Berrettini? Kyrgios? Can anyone actually stop Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon?


Will anyone stop Djokovic? (Picture: AFP via Getty)

It’s his to lose.

That’s the feeling around the All England Club ahead of Novak Djokovic’s opening match against British wildcard Jack Draper on Monday.

Djokovic, the world No. 1 and five-time Wimbledon champion, will continue his relentless pursuit for records and his place as the greatest in history on the luscious grass courts of SW19 this fortnight. Few will look beyond him for the men’s singles title.

The evidence is overwhelming, Djokovic has won the Australian and French Opens already. He has won the past two Wimbledons. One more major title would draw him level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s joint 20-Slam men’s record and put him within four of Margaret Court’s all-time total.

With plans to win the ‘Golden Slam’ – where a player wins all four majors as well as Olympic Gold – this year this is merely viewed as another stop on Djokovic’s road to untouchable greatness.

Federer and Nadal would both back their chances in a personality contest but their arguments for being considered the greatest male of all time are fast fading away.

Djokovic can equal their major titles this fortnight, has more weeks at world No. 1, has won every Masters 1000 and Slam event twice – neither of Fedal have done that – and has winning head-to-head records against both.



Most Grand Slam titles (ATP)

20 – Federer
20 – Nadal
19 – Djokovic
14 – Sampras

Serena Williams may well still have a lot of skin in the GOAT game but if Djokovic passes her titles total, he will have the hard numbers to back up any objective, stats-driven argument. Who is seriously betting against him doing it?

Not I, said the Walrus. But it would still be wrong to consider a major event as a foregone conclusion. Djokovic has lost his way in the past, most notably after holding all four major titles by winning the French Open in 2016, and there are still players who can upset the apple cart in London.

Novak Djokovic

As alluded to above, perhaps the biggest obstacle facing Novak Djokovic is actually Novak Djokovic.

With so much history and opportunity in front of him – and with most people viewing him as the overwhelming favourite – will the pressure suddenly get to him?

‘I think the No. 1 person who can stop Novak will be Novak,’ Patrick Mouratoglou, the coach of Serena Williams tells Metro.co.uk.

Mouratoglou thinks Djokovic is the man to beat (Picture: Getty)

‘Because I think he is definitely the huge favourite, it’s a lot of pressure on his shoulders. This guy is on the way to potentially making a Golden Slam year.

‘And plus, equalling the two others in terms of Grand Slams and possibly overtaking them. This is huge pressure, I can tell you. History, playing for history now, so the pressure will be at the highest point.

‘He knows that he’s in that position and the question is how is he going to deal with that? It’s not easy. That’s why I’m saying he’s potentially his biggest opponent.

‘He’s playing incredible tennis, he’s so confident, he’s so good in five sets, he’s so good on grass. This is not easy to deal with and he knows it. That’s his biggest challenge, not anything else.

‘Of course, there are still guys who can beat him. Stef [Tsitsipas] is one of those, maybe [Daniil] Medvedev – a few guys in the Next Gen, well they’re now the current Gen but young guys. But his biggest opponent is him.’

Roger Federer

Okay, I know what you’re going to say. Federer’s past his best, hasn’t had enough matches this season and, come on, turns 40 in August! How can we seriously expect this guy to stop Djokovic?

Well, despite the (many) concerns, Federer is still an eight-time champion. No man has won this event more than him and his aura alone can get him through most opponents in his path.

He will avoid Djokovic until the final after landing in the other half of the draw and while he’ll no doubt be hoping for someone else to trip the Serb up, he did have two match points the last time they met in the final, in a five-set thriller in 2019.

Will Federer return to Wimbledon with a bang? (Picture: Getty)

Of course, a lot has happened since then – namely a couple of knee surgeries for Federer – and Djokovic has beaten him in three of their four Wimbledon meetings but the Swiss will still believe he can take out anyone on his day. Even Djokovic.

Mouratoglou, however, admitted it will be a tough ask for Federer to come through the draw unscathed and produce his best against the top seed.

‘There’s a big difference between Roger and Serena,’ he added. ‘Roger is playing in five sets.

‘At the age he has now, the form he has, he’s been injured for a long time, he had a tough match in Roland Garros and pulled out of the match after… of course, it was also to be ready for Wimbledon but I really think if he has a few tough matches and has to play Novak in five sets, you can’t imagine him winning.

‘Of course, he’s Roger, he’s the greatest on grass. But the more time passes, the bigger the challenge – especially in five sets.’

Matteo Berrettini

The newly crowned Queen’s champion made quite a splash in the Wimbledon tune-up event and is now being considered a serious contender for the title.

Boasting a thumping serve – he was regularly dropping 140mph+ aces at Queen’s – and booming forehand, the Italian may not have the experience of other contenders but he has a big enough game to hit through any opponent on the opposite side of the net.

Stefanos Tsitsipas

With two major titles to his name, it’s no surprise that Djokovic leads the Race to Turin, but Tsitsipas has been the best of the rest.

He’s reached the semi-finals of each of the last three majors and was beaten in five sets by Djokovic at Roland Garros earlier this month.

There are perhaps question marks over whether his grass-court game has developed enough to be considered a major contender but given the consistency he’s shown all season, it’s hard to rule him completely out of the reckoning.

Tsitsipas is hoping to make a splash at Wimbledon (Picture: AFP via Getty)

‘I’m sure he’s going to win a lot. It’s just a question of time,’ says Mouratoglou, who mentors the Greek world No. 4. ‘The difference between him and Novak is that Novak is probably – if he’s not already the greatest of all time, he probably will be.

‘I personally think he’s in the best position. Yes, he’s not the greatest of all time yet, Stef. It’s still the toughest thing ever to beat Novak in a Grand Slam final.

‘He’s been close to. Two sets up shows already how good he played but he can still improve. The difference is also improvement. Novak is able, even when he’s two sets down, to see where there are some ways to navigate and win.

‘Because there are still some little improvements to make here and there and he takes advantage of that. He’s such a competitor. There’s still some improvement to make in several aspects of Stef’s game and he has to make them and then he will win.’

Daniil Medvedev

A fairly obvious pick given he’s the world No. 2 and he’s just picked up a first title on grass in Mallorca.

Medvedev has yet to go to the third round at the All England Club and has a tricky opener against Jan-Lennard Struff before a potential third-round meeting with former runner-up Marin Cilic, but he remains on the of the best in the world who is capable of beating anyone on his day.

He is also hoping that the weight of pressure on Djokovic’s shoulders may prove too much to handle.

Could Medvedev and Kyrgios produce an upset? (Picture: Icon Sportswire via Getty)

‘He already made history in many ways,’ said Medvedev. ‘Of course, probably he’s trying to make something special this year. As much as we know what goals mean to him, how much he can work to achieve them, it also puts pressure.

‘I think Wimbledon, Olympics, and US Open can be fun to watch Novak play because he’s going to put everything on himself to try to make it. That’s when he’s strongest. At the same time that’s a lot of pressure. We’re going to try to use it in our advantage.’

Nick Kyrgios

Can we really consider a guy who has not played since February as a serious contender? Probably not.

But Kyrgios, despite failing to ever go beyond the quarter-finals of a Slam, is a different beast on grass and will be a player no one relishes lining up against.

He has a very tricky first-round match against France’s Ugo Humbert – another player who could be considered as a dark horse for the title – but should he come through that, there will be an opportunity to make a decent run.

Djokovic, having lost to Kyrgios in both their previous meetings, will perhaps be pleased to see him in the opposite side of the draw and it’s probably unrealistic to expect this to be the time when they can finally bring their war of words to the match court.





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