Djokovic’s grass-court pedigree positions him as distinct from almost everyone else in the 128-player field. The tournament is already missing top-10 stars Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev, as well as eight-time winner Roger Federer. Fellow champions Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray are hopeful of playing, yet are under injury clouds. Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas, elevated to No.3 and No.4 seed respectively, have never thrived on grass, while promising fifth seed Carlos Alcaraz is almost completely untested on it. Matteo Berrettini and Hubert Hurkacz are surging on the surface, but Djokovic holds a collective 8-0 win-loss record against them, and has also beaten both of them at Wimbledon; that particular win over Berrettini came in last year’s final.moments, when Novak is usually so good, was there a little bit of self-doubt? Was he not on auto-pilot, because he hadn’t had the same six months leading into the French that he normally would have?
“I don’t know. But he just seemed to falter. And full credit to Nadal of course, he just never goes away. Maybe Novak will be better for that moment with Rafa at the French?“If history is any indicator, setbacks just make Novak more determined. He really is amazing, just how driven he is.” As Djokovic targets a seventh trophy at SW19, we assess his biggest threats to a title he has made his own in the past decade.
Berrettini missed three months of the season due to hand surgery, but since returning for the grass-court swing, he hasn’t lost a match. The Italian’s vicious serve, forehand and slice backhand have helped him scoop back-to-back titles in Stuttgart and Queen’s. Last year’s Wimbledon finalist is now 36-7 lifetime on grass and will hope to have learned from his experience of his first major final 12 months ago, during which he revealed he was beset by nerves. “Berrettini is obviously undeniable after his last couple of weeks,” Masur said. “Both he and Hurkacz are going to go up in the seedings; they’re going to be two people for me to keep an eye on.”
Speaking of Hurkacz, he won the Halle title the same week Berrettini triumphed at Queen’s. It was an incredible run at the German tournament that saw the Pole beat Felix Auger-Aliassime, Nick Kyrgios and Daniil Medvedev to win his first ATP title on grass. Hurkacz was also a semifinalist at Wimbledon last year, another demonstration of his potency on the surface. “He’s just not a guy you can push around,” Masur observed. “He’s big, and with that comes the serve – and when he hits it, it just stays hit. He’s going to be dangerous.”