Wimbledon 2023 – Five players who can make it difficult for Novak Djokovic

Every league has favorites. Rarely does a tennis tournament have one person in precedence over the rest of the field combined. Then again, it’s rare for a single player to be as dominant as Novak Djokovic was at Wimbledon.

Djokovic has won 31 consecutive matches at Wimbledon, and he has won 43 of the last 45 matches on grass. None of the two players beat him – one retired Tomas Berdych Or Marin Cilic is injured – entering Wimbledon this year. Djokovic begins his journey to win his eighth Wimbledon title with odds of -175, per Caesars. That’s the implied title odds of 64% for him and 36% for the other 127 players in the field. After 3 rounds, his win rate is up to -200 (equivalent to 67%). And good luck finding a confident person willing to bet against him.

However, there are still four rounds to go, and, this is a tennis tournament. Strange things happen! Djokovic lost Sam Querrey at Wimbledon in 2016 and Berdych in both 2010 and 2017. He’s probably the safest bet in the sport, but there’s no 100% guarantee.

With that in mind, let’s talk about the obstacles he still faces in the upcoming rounds. First, after his consecutive victory before Stan Wawrinka on Friday, here’s Djokovic’s remaining Wimbledon path:

Fourth round: No.17 Hubert Hurkacz

Quarterfinals: number 7 Andrey Rublev (64% chance of making it to the next round, every tennis summary) or number 23 Alexander Bublik (36%)

Semifinal: 8 sinner Jannik (73%), number 26 Denis Shapovalov (15%), Roman Safiullin (10%), Daniel Elahi Galan (3%)

Final match: No.1 Carlos Alcaraz (37%), number 3 Daniil Medvedev (23%), number 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas (11%), Matteo Berrettini (6%), No. 10 Frances Tiafoe (6%), number 6 Holger rune (5%), number 16 tommy paul (3%), nine others less than 3%

Who are the five players who have the best chance to get through a big game and make Djokovic lose his first Wimbledon match since 2018?

1. Carlos Alcaraz

When does he play against Djokovic: the final

Obviously we start with Alcaraz. He is the top ranked player in the world, and he won one of their two head to head matches. He’s still learning how to play on the pitch — he won the second round Alexandre Muller It’s only been his 13th high-level game on the surface — but he’s won 10 of his past 11 turf games and won all seven in 2023. He learns fast.

Alcaraz, 20, has many hurdles to go to our first Djokovic-Alcaraz final. Or Alexander Zverev or Berrettini finalist in 2021 will be waiting in the fourth round, next could be Rune or Tiafoe in the quarterfinals and Medvedev or Tsitsipas in the semi-finals. That’s a lot. But if he’s polished his form enough to get through those challenges, and he can relax better in the run-up to Djokovic (he suffered stress cramps in the French semi-final). their expansion), he might be ready for the best takedown ever in a best year.

2. Sinner Jannik

When does he play against Djokovic: semi-finals

Something clicked for Sinner at Wimbledon last year. He entered the 2022 Championship with just 2-6 on the pitch, but he knocked out Wawrinka, John Isner and Alcaraz on his way to the quarterfinals, where he also had the first two sets against Djokovic. However, as has become customary, the score is one-way from there – 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 for Djokovic.

Sinner performed well in the first week, losing a set first Quentin Halys but won the other six by 6-2 or worse. At just 20 years old, he is an outstanding striker, good mobility and if it weren’t for Alcaraz’s incredible rise in the past two years, we would be talking more about Sinner’s huge potential. He’s also in the friendliest area by far. His odds of reaching the semi-finals are high (73%, according to Tennis Abstract), and he knows he can compete on this surface. But there is confidence, and there is confidence to “win three sets against Novak Djokovic”. We only know that Sinner has the former.

3. Hubert Hurkaz

When playing against Djokovic: round 4

2023 was a year of ups and downs for Hurkacz. The 26-year-old has reached one final and three semi-finals (including one on grass in Stuttgart), but he has also lost six of his seven games to top 20 opponents. , that only victory came on Friday at Wimbledon, when he swept away Lorenzo Musetti 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 to advance to round 4.

The 6-foot-5, big-serve Hurkacz sounds like your archetypal turf star and his track record certainly proves it. He beat Djokovic at Wimbledon 2019, he beat Federer on his way to the semi-finals in 2021, and he’s won 16 of his past 20 on grass. Although no one serves and passes enough these days, he is capable of using that old-fashioned tactic that has given Djokovic some nasty moments before. Jordan Thompson in the second round — more than most. And considering how Djokovic tends to compete in tournaments and improve with each round, playing him in the fourth round might be better than playing him on the second weekend.

4. Daniil Medvedev

When does he play against Djokovic: the final

At the Slams, Djokovic was 29-1 on aggregate against the other 23 men remaining on the Wimbledon court. He’s lost quite a few sets against some of them, but only one has beaten him in three sets in the same match: Medvedev, in the 2021 US Open final. So he’s certain. must be on this list, even if the grass isn’t his best surface.

He is advanced though on the grass. He has won 19 of his past 25 matches and he just avenged one of his recent losses with a straight win over the pitch specialist. Adrian Mannarino. He enjoys life well beyond his baseline and his long, repetitive shots can make quick adjustments for strong bounces. But he’s figuring it out, and he performed really well in the first two games. And if he reaches the final against Djokovic, he will bring to the table a piece of knowledge that no one else in the field has: the fact that he can beat his opponent.

5. Frances Tiafoe

When does he play against Djokovic: the final

The odds of Big Foe reaching the final and beating Djokovic are not great. In consecutive rounds, he may have to beat Grigor Dimitrov (in 2014 semi-final), 6th seed Rune, Alcaraz and Medvedev or Tsitsipas. You can make a strong case for Rublev (a likely quarterfinal opponent for Djokovic), Rune, Tsitsipas, Zverev or even a Berrettini who is in round shape in this position instead of Tiafoe.

So why go with a Maryland native? Because confidence is not a problem for a guy who beats Rafael Nadal at the US Open last year (and stretched Alcaraz to five sets of two two halves later) and have won 11 of the past 13 grass court games. Unless you have a giant serve, winning on the pitch requires a high level of both brawling and improvisation. He has those in bulk, and he seems more comfortable on the surface after every game he plays. He also beat Djokovic by a set at the Australian Open in 2021. No one on this list is capable of beating Djokovic amazingly, but I’ll give Tiafoe a better chance than most.


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