THE NEXT generation stand in the way of Nole’s quest for an eighth Wimbledon title.
Just two wins away from a record-extending 24th Grand Slam victory, Novak Djokovic looks downright unstoppable. Heading into the Wimbledon semi-finals, the Serbian maestro has only dropped two sets in the tournament and is two from two in grand slams this year. It’s going to take a serious upset to interrupt the 36-year-old on his path to a record-tying eighth Wimbledon title. So, is there anyone, besides Australian immigration authorities, that can stop him?
While Djokovic entered Wimbledon as favourite, tennis is no stranger to inconceivable upsets, especially on grass — cue memories of our very own Nick Kyrgios taking down Rafael Nadal in 2014. Anything can happen when the pressure is on and with a slew of rising stars, some of whom are already grand slam champions, standing in his way, Djokovic won’t be feeling comfortable until he’s hoisting the pineapple-topped trophy over his head.
The Best Bet To Stop Djokovic: Carlos Alcaraz
World Ranking: no. 1 | Record against Djokovic: 1 win – 1 loss
At just 20 years of age, Carlos Alcaraz has already risen to the top spot in the ATP world rankings and been proclaimed the ‘next big thing’ in tennis. Following his victory at the 2022 US Open, Alcaraz became the youngest ever world number one and the phenom’s reputation as a force to be reckoned with has only grown since.
The stage was set at the semi-finals of the 2023 French Open for the surging Alcaraz to take down Djokovic, but the youngster wasn’t up to the challenge, going down in four sets. A deflated Alcaraz cited cramps as the reason for his disappointing play and we don’t blame him: frankly playing the Serb is a pain (in something).
With a playing style akin to his illustrious compatriot Rafael Nadal, Alcaraz has the tools and means to upset Djokovic, avenge his defeat at the French Open and claim his second grand slam. Whether he’s up to the challenge this time around remains to be seen. Alcaraz and Djokovic won’t meet until the final, if the pair both make it that far.
The Dark Horse To Dethrone Djokovic: Daniil Medvedev
World ranking: no. 3 | Record against Djokovic: 5 wins – 9 losses
Medvedev is a polarising figure. From being booed at the Australian Open for his robotic post-match comments to receiving a standing ovation from fans after winning the 2021 US Open against Djokovic, the Russian can work a crowd, as hero or villain. Love him or hate him, Medvedev is the third grand slam winner left in the field after Djokovic and Alcaraz. And he’s the only player left who can say he’s defeated the Serb at the grand slam level. There’s only one problem: Medvedev’s game on any surface other than hardcourt is about as weak as a wet paper bag.
Despite his ranking, Medvedev has always struggled on clay and grass courts. His previously mediocre play on grass has meant his deep run at Wimbledon has been something of a shock, with the Russian now positioned as a dark horse to win the whole tournament. The quarterfinals are the furthest Medvedev has ever been at Wimbledon, but should he battle through to the final, he’ll likely face Djokovic and have the chance to double his grand slam tally. At only 27 years of age, Medvedev is the second oldest player left in the field despite being nine years younger than the Serb. Djokovic seems to have only got better with age, so perhaps Medvedev will prove he’s matured enough as a grass court player to get over the line.
The Rising Star: Jannik Sinner
World ranking: no. 8 | Record against Djokovic: 0 wins – 2 losses
Sinner, the 21-year-old rising star affectionately dubbed ‘carota’ (Italian for carrot) has dazzled his way into Wimbledon’s semi-finals. A brand ambassador for Gucci, Sinner’s off-court styling and apparel have caught the eyes of spectators, but his on-court play is equally flamboyant. Put simply, Sinner has dominated every opponent at Wimbledon this year, dropping only two sets at the tournament. He’ll soon face the ultimate test of his mettle against the Djokovic in the semi-finals.
Sinner was 2-0 up against the ‘Djoker’ in the 2022 quarterfinals, but a mesmerising comeback eventually propelled the Serb all the way to the championship. Due to meet Djokovic on Thursday night, Sinner has never made it this far at a grand slam, but he has the necessary skillset and mental toughness to go even further.