Novak Djokovic, the seven-time champion and World No. 2, is well aware of the target on his back as he pursues a record-extending 24th major title at this year’s Wimbledon. Following his quarter-final victory against Andrey Rublev on Tuesday, the Serbian delivered a resolute statement, saying, “It ain’t happening!” during his on-court interview, in response to questions about his competitors’ attempts to halt his remarkable run in the third major of the season. Djokovic reinforced his stance in the post-match press conference, expressing his belief that he is the favorite.
While not intending to sound arrogant, Djokovic confidently stated, “Of course, I would consider myself the favorite. Judging by the results I’ve had in my career here, having won Wimbledon on four previous occasions, I do consider myself the favorite.” As he prepares for his 46th major semi-final, where he will face Italian Jannik Sinner, Djokovic acknowledges the young contender’s potential to upset him. Sinner, a 21-year-old, will be playing in his first major semi-final but can draw inspiration from last year’s Wimbledon encounter when he led Djokovic by two sets before the Serbian made a remarkable comeback to claim victory.
Djokovic, who has the opportunity to equal Roger Federer’s eight Wimbledon crowns, has been unbeaten on Centre Court since the 2013 final. With a remarkable 33-match winning streak at The All England Club, dating back to his quarter-final retirement in 2017, Djokovic has established himself as a dominant force on the grass. The last completed match he lost at Wimbledon was in 2016 against Sam Querrey in the third round. However, the Serbian acknowledges that each year brings new challenges, noting that he hasn’t been sliding on the grass as much this year.
Reflecting on his sliding technique, Djokovic explained, “I think as the tournament goes on, us players feel more comfortable moving on the grass. For some players like Sinner and Alcaraz, they like to slide. I think you become more comfortable going for the slide. Maybe at the beginning, you feel like walking on eggs a little bit because the grass is also more slippery, particularly when playing indoors under the roof. This year, I feel like I’ve been sliding on the grass the least compared to previous years. Whether it’s a conscious or unconscious decision, I’m not entirely sure. I’m still trying to figure that out. Sometimes sliding is not the best option on grass, and sometimes it is. It depends on the ball and the situation.”
Nevertheless, Djokovic has made the necessary adjustments during this Wimbledon fortnight. After surviving a serving onslaught from Hubert Hurkacz in the fourth round, Djokovic found himself rallying from a set down against Rublev. Despite Rublev’s improved performance, Djokovic emerged victorious, describing their match as a “dogfight” characterized by intense and exhausting moments. The pivotal moments in the third set ultimately determined the outcome, and Djokovic felt a tremendous sense of relief when he clinched that set. He commended Rublev for delivering the best quality of tennis they have encountered in their Grand Slam encounters.