As we eagerly anticipate the graduation of the 2023 males’s tennis season, many compelling storylines are taking form. Novak Djokovic‘s return to Australia – with out incident! – has many questioning if the 35-year-old can rise to the highest of the game as soon as once more, after a tumultuous season that noticed him miss two of the 4 Grand Slams. Djokovic desires to enter the 2023 Australian Open as the favourite to win his twenty second main title.
There will be loads of tantalizing tennis to observe within the first half of the season, together with Rafael Nadal’s title protection on the Australian Open and his push for an ungodly fifteenth title at Roland-Garros, the continued evolution of Carlos Alcaraz as he seeks to remain atop the ATP rankings with a motivated forged of characters – assume Djokovic, Casper Ruud, Daniil Medvedev and extra – chasing him, and the overall rise of gamers 25 and beneath who search to knock Djokovic and Nadal from high canine standing on tour
Nonetheless, I am unable to assist focus my consideration on what is going to kick off the second half of the season: Novak Djokovic’s quest for an eighth Wimbledon title.
Why? As a result of it is one in every of this ignored corners of Djokovic’s legacy that may lastly be given correct due with Roger Federer out of the image. Is Djokovic the best grass-court participant and Wimbledon champion of all-time? Not but, however he could possibly be…
One shy of matching the mighty Federer
Whether or not Djokovic finds a method to win his tenth title in Australia or not will go a good distance in setting the desk for what could possibly be a crowning achievement at Wimbledon this summer season. If he wins his twenty second Slam title in Melbourne he could possibly be making an attempt to take possession of the all-time Slam title file for the primary time (relying on Nadal after all) at Wimbledon.
Both approach there shall be historical past at stake.
By profitable 4 straight and 6 of the final eight Wimbledon males’s singles titles on supply, Djokovic has put himself one triumph shy of equalizing Roger Federer on the all-time males’s singles title final at SW19.
It’s a quite shocking growth to make certain. With every passing yr, a couple of extra aficionados begin to acknowledge the truth that Djokovic could be the perfect grass-court participant in males’s tennis historical past. That distinction was solely Roger Federer’s till a couple of years in the past, however Djokovic has continued to rack up titles at an alarming clip, and now he is poised to match Federer in a couple of monumental classes.
5 consecutive titles?
Solely Federer and Bjorn Borg have racked up 5 consecutive males’s singles titles at Wimbledon, a feat that Djokovic might match with a title in 2023. It is a testomony to his longevity that Djokovic has achieved this all after the age of 30 and, as we noticed final yr as he mowed down the competitors like one of many machines that’s used to maintain Wimbledon’s pristine grass at eight millimeters in peak, he is exhibiting no indicators of slowing down.
Oldest males’s singles champion at Wimbledon?
In 2022 Djokovic turned the second oldest males’s singles champion in Wimbledon historical past, and he’ll attempt to cross Federer because the oldest champion this summer season. Federer gained his final title at SW19 at 35 years and 342 days, and he reached the ultimate at 37 years and 340 days in 2019, earlier than falling to Djokovic in a dramatic five-setter.
Djokovic has been a thorn in Federer’s facet at Wimbledon since 2014 – he defeated the Swiss in three consecutive finals (2014, 2015 and 2019) and considerably altered the Grand Slam title race within the course of. An instance: If Federer had been capable of preserve domination and win two of the three finals in opposition to Djokovic, he’d have retired with 22 majors, leaving the Serb with 19 as he begins the season.
It is no coincidence that a few of Djokovic’s greatest profession triumphs have come on Wimbledon’s grass. He has by no means stopped enhancing on the floor, and the truth that he has been capable of get the perfect of Federer – the de facto grass goat – says lots about his affinity for the floor.
The run retains going
Djokovic grew up dreaming about profitable Wimbledon, and he cherishes his success at Wimbledon deeply. It undoubtedly has performed a job in his evolution at SW19.
“This Middle Court docket and this event nonetheless has probably the most particular place in my coronary heart as a result of it has at all times been my childhood dream event,” he stated after defeating Nick Kyrgios for the title in 2022. “After all, each time I step out on the court docket it’s a feeling not like anything.”
Djokovic has gained a lot at Wimbledon (28-match profitable streak, 7-1 in finals and no losses on Middle Court docket since 2013) that he can not help however really feel invincible within the sport’s grandest cathedral.
“The extra you win, it is logical the extra assured, the extra comfy you’re feeling on the market each subsequent time you step out on the court docket,” he says.”So the run retains going. I really feel very related with this court docket and with this event no doubt.”
Who can cease him?
One other pattern that has been working decidedly in Djokovic’s favor is the ever widening hole between himself and the remainder of the sector – particularly at Wimbledon. Grass is a floor that rewards expertise greater than some other, and Djokovic has that treasured commodity in spades. Now that Federer is gone he is unmatched in standing. His greatest rival Nadal struggles at Wimbledon greater than some other Slam, and world No 1 Alcaraz has performed a mere six matches at SW19 – he’ll probably want extra time earlier than he can problem for titles at Wimbledon. There are gifted gamers, equivalent to 2022 runner-up Nick Kyrgios and grass guru Matteo Berrettini, however Djokovic is in one other class for the time being.
2023 and past
As we glance past 2023 and into the longer term, it is easy to think about that Djokovic might focus extra on Wimbledon and fewer on Roland-Garros, resulting from the truth that the grass is much less grueling to play on. Federer was capable of attain the ultimate at Wimbledon a month shy of his thirty eighth birthday, however bumped into Djokovic when he bought there.
If Djokovic can obtain the identical, his potential opponent will not have the identical pedigree, and certain will not have the sport, both. All of it factors to a three- or four-year window during which Djokovic might proceed to flourish, and if he does information will fall with alarming rapidity. Djokovic could also be 35 occurring 36, however his finest days at Wimbledon could also be very effectively forward of him.
If he can proceed his domination on the hallowed lawns of the All England Membership, Djokovic might draw back from the remainder of the pack and firmly set up himself as probably the most embellished participant in males’s tennis historical past.
Over the previous twenty years we have now been blessed by a golden age of males’s tennis, and seen the tectonic plates of the game shift many occasions. Absolutely there shall be extra tremors in 2023, and Wimbledon might see the largest of all – within the chilly of December it is another reason to stay up for the heat of July.