- By Jonathan Jurejko
- BBC Sport at Wimbledon
Novak Djokovic is targeting more tennis history as he leads the star names at a Wimbledon where Andy Murray aims to roll back the years on the 10th anniversary of his first title.
Serbia’s Djokovic, 36, is going for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam victory and an eighth Wimbledon win to match Roger Federer’s men’s record.
With Rafael Nadal injured, Djokovic is one of the few iconic names left in the draws, although Britain’s Murray and American Venus Williams, 43, are notable former champions present.
of Spain Carlos Alcaraz is the men’s world number one after winning the Queen’s title last week, leading the next generation of ATP Tour stars trying to unseat Djokovic.
British men’s number one Cameron Norrie is aiming to replicate last year’s stunning run to the semi-finals, while Katie Boulter leads the home contingent in women’s singles after a successful summer in which she reached a career-high ranking.
Boulter is the new British women’s number one after replacing 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu, who is missing Wimbledon after undergoing operations on wrist and ankle injuries.
The dominant trio on the WTA Tour this year – Kazakh defending champion Elena Rybakina, Polish top seed Every Swiatek and second seed Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka – expected women to lose.
Sabalenka is one of the most high-profile players at the All England Club this year after the ban on Russian and Belarusian competitors was lifted.
Ranking points – which were removed by the ATP and WTA in response to the ban – have been restored, while Wimbledon organizers have increased security measures after Just Stop Oil activists disrupted several sporting events .
Here are the main talking points from one of the highlights of the British sporting summer, which starts on Monday.
Who can stop Djokovic?
Shortly after Djokovic won a record-equalling 23rd men’s major title by capturing the French Open, the Serb warned his younger rivals that he is far from done.
“The journey is still not over. If I won the Slams, why am I still thinking about ending a career that has been 20 years?” he said.
“I still feel motivated and inspired to play my best tennis in these tournaments.
“These are the most counted in the history of our sport.”
Having won the previous four titles at SW19, and not losing a finished match there since 2016, Djokovic is seen as the favorite to lift the trophy again.
The seven-time champion can equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles and tie Federer’s mark of eight men’s wins at the All England Club.
Djokovic has cut back on his tour-level schedule in recent years in an effort to get up in time for four majors.
The strategy works. With the victory at Roland Garros, Djokovic has won six of the last eight majors he has played.
He again decided not to compete in a grass-court event before Wimbledon, instead playing an exhibition at the Hurlingham Club on Thursday.
Alcaraz, 20, is considered the most likely challenger and proved his game is suited to grass courts as he won the Queen’s title, despite not facing someone of Djokovic’s caliber.
of Australia Nick Kyrgios lost to Djokovic in last year’s finals and is always a threat on grass with his powerful serve, although he has played just one tournament this year due to a knee injury that required surgery.
Russia’s third seed Daniel Medvedev has not gone beyond the fourth round, while the Norwegian fourth seed Casper Ruud has won only one main-draw match at Wimbledon.
Danish sixth seed Holger Rune could be a threat, along with the Australian 16th seed Alex de Minaur and American 25th seed Sebastian Corda, after all showing their grass-court pedigree at Queen’s.
Will the ‘big three’ continue to dominate?
The emerging ‘big three’ on the women’s tour – Swiatek, Rybakina and Sabalenka – have won the past five majors between them.
Swiatek, 22, has only reached the fourth round once, in 2021, but warmed up by reaching the grass-court semi-final in Bad Homburg.
However, the French Open and US Open champion pulled out of Friday’s match against Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti with a stomach ailment.
Rybakina, who uses her smashing serve to good effect on grass, also struggled physically and withdrew from Eastbourne last week.
The third seed said she was still recovering from a virus that forced her to withdraw from the French Open, although she was well enough to practice alongside Australian Open champion Sabalenka on Center Court on Friday.
Sabalenka reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2021 but was barred from competing last year after the All England Club sanctioned Russian and Belarusian players in response to the war in Ukraine.
in Tunisia Our Jabeur, last year’s beaten finalist, is still trying to regain his best form after a calf injury, while the Czech Karolina Muchova who lost to Swiatek in the Roland Garros final, could pose a threat on grass.
American Coco Gauff has always been a visible contender in the majors and reached the Eastbourne semi-finals, while the Czech is a two-time champion Peter Kvitov can also be mixed.
Can Murray still be a contender?
In 2013, Murray achieved British sporting immortality when he defeated Djokovic in a passionate final to become a rare home men’s champion.
The Scot, then aged 26, became the first Briton to win the title in 77 years, adding a second title in 2016 by beating Milos Raonic.
Since then, Murray’s career has been derailed by a serious hip injury and revived thanks to a resurfacing surgery that left him with a metal cap on the joint.
Murray feared the surgery would end his playing days, but he returned later in 2019 and showed this summer that he still knows how to win on the grass courts.
Winning back-to-back Challenger titles in Surbiton and Nottingham – the level below the main ATP Tour – started the British summer swing on a positive note.
Murray suffered a chastening defeat when he moved up in class at Queen’s, losing to eventual runner-up De Minaur in the first round, but remains bullish about his chances at Wimbledon.
“I think I have a good chance, I don’t think there are many players in the draw with the experience I have on the grass courts,” said Murray, who missed out on a seeding after his early exit. of the Queen.
“There aren’t many people in the draw that I can play and think ‘I can’t win this’.
“Definitely, it will be very difficult to get to the final stages again but I believe I can do it. I am in the right place physically and mentally now.”
Murray plays the countryman Ryan Peniston in the first round and the pair are among eight British players in the men’s draw.
Norrie, 27, will appear the best placed by far, although he has been given what could be a difficult path through the draw.
Dan Evans, ranked 30th in the world, is the only other seeded home player, with Liam Broady, Jan Choinski, Arthur Fery and George Loffhagen all accept wildcards.
Can British women be amazing?
Boulter was one of six British women in the singles, all of whom were given wildcards after being ranked too low for direct entry to the cut-off point.
The state of British women’s tennis has been under scrutiny recently after no one from the country was ranked inside the world’s top 100 players when the injured Raducanu stepped down.
Since then, Boulter has reached a career high of 77 after winning the Nottingham Open earlier this month.
Boulter reached the third round at Wimbledon last year and perhaps represents the country’s possible chance to be the women’s representative in the second week.
Heather Watson, 31, is an experienced campaigner who reached the fourth round last year, but faces a tough start against Czech 10th seed Barbora Krejcikova.
Jodie Burrage and Harriet Dart both enjoyed encouraging British grass-court seasons on the WTA Tour, while Kate Swan and Sonay Kartal – who rounded off the British contingent – combined for wins on the ITF Tour.
“Each one of these girls could be within 100. I think we should be asking if we don’t have anyone who could be,” said 26-year-old Boulter.
“These girls are getting wins against top-100 players.”
What about other Britons?
In the men’s doubles, many players have a real chance of producing the first British champion since 2012.
Top seeds Neal Skupski and his Dutch partner Wesley Koolhof leads the way, while Joe Salisbury and American Rajeev Ram, Lloyd Glasspool and Nicholas Mahut of France, and Jamie Murray and Michael Venus of New Zealand is also seeded.
However, three-time major champions Salisbury and Ram face a tough opening match against the Australian pair of Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls received direct entry into the women’s draw, with wildcards awarded to Darts and Watson, Naiktha Bains and Maia Lumsden, Emily Appleton and Burrage and Freya Christie and Ali Collins.
In wheelchair draws, British pair Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid compete in men’s singles and combine for an 18th major doubles title.
Lucy Shuker was given a wildcard in women’s singles, while Andy Lapthorne joined the Wimbledon debutant Greg Slade in quad events.
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