Novak Djokovic will continue his bid to become the first male player in history to win the ‘Golden Slam’ of tennis when he steps out at Wimbledon at the end of the month. The ‘Golden Slam’ refers to a player winning all four major titles as well as the Olympics in the same year and of course, the Olympics only come around every four years, making the feat so much more special.
In 1988, Steffi Graf became the first player ever to achieve it, but the nobody in the men’s game has managed it to date. Djokovic already has the Australian and French Open to his name this year, and is the odds-on favourite to add the Wimbledon title to his belt later this summer. If he won his sixth Wimbledon crown, he would find himself level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 career Grand Slam victories so the time has most certainly come to start talking about Djokovic as the greatest tennis player ever.
A win at SW19 would be his third consecutive success at the tournament, a feat that only Roger Federer has managed since the turn of the millennium. Federer will be there bidding to retain a title that he last won in 2017, but in losing to Felix Auger-Aliassime last time out, his preparation has hardly been ideal.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal, who Djokovic conquered in spectacular style at Roland Garros, has pulled out of both Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics, saying that he needs to “listen to his body” after a gruelling clay season. With Andy Murray no longer the threat he used to be at Wimbledon, who is left to try and halt the Serbian in his quest to land that elusive ‘Golden Slam’?
Let’s take a look at some of the contenders.
The most obvious challenge comes from the in-form Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek talent found himself two sets up against Djokovic in last week’s French Open final, only for the Serbian to dig deep and miraculously recover to win his second Paris championship.
Including his run in France, the 22-year-old has now reached the final in four of his last six tournaments, winning in Lyon and Monte Carlo.
His two defeats have come to Djokovic and Nadal, and as we all know, there’s no shame in that.
He has never gone beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon, but in this current form, expect Tsitsipas to go close this year.
Daniil Medvedev is Betfred’s second favourite to win at Wimbledon, making him possibly the most likely to put an end to Djokovic’s run.
However, his preparation has been far from ideal. The world number two was dumped out of the Halle Open first round in straight sets to world number 45 Jan-Lennard Struff. He hasn’t gone beyond the quarter-finals in any of his last five tournaments, and having not gone beyond the third round at Wimbledon, this might be a big ask.
As long as Federer is turning up at Wimbledon, it just doesn’t feel right to discount him.
Sure, there is that defeat to Auger-Aliassime, and he is approaching his 40th birthday, but the Swiss is adamant that he can still mix it with the best. If he were to clinch his ninth Wimbledon trophy, it would be his greatest achievement in the sport yet.
Alexander Zverev has yet to win a Grand Slam, but he has come close a few times. With Nadal out, and some of the usual contenders past their prime, could this be the year that he finally breaks his duck?
He pushed Tsitsipas all the way in a thrilling five set semi-final clash as the French Open, and did in fact beat the Greek in the final at Acapulco back in March. The German also made it through to the final of the ATP Masters in Madrid without dropping a single set, before coming from behind to beat Matteo Berrettini to lift the title.
Zverev is a bit of a wildcard at times, but if he turns it on, can be a serious contender.
Meanwhile, in the women’s draw, four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka will not be present at the All England Club after taking time out from the sport after experiencing depression and anxiety.
The world number two says she is “excited to play in front of her home fans” in the Tokyo Olympics, but is spending some time this summer with her family and friends. Our recent article discusses how tennis could have done more to protect Osaka in her time of need.
In Osaka’s absence, Ashleigh Barty is the favourite to go all the way at Wimbledon, with Serena Williams not far behind her in the betting as she bids to finally equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slams.