It is summer, late June and at Wimbledon, of course, the freshly cut grass already gives off that heady whiff that proclaims a return: after the forced cancellation of last year, the major Britain, the tournament of tournaments for many fans and players who have fallen into its aristocratic persuasive networks, is back on track. And Novak Djokovic parades there with a firm step and a well-swollen chest, because after all he, the number one, the tennis player who has taken the first two greats of the course and who comes after giving a thunderous blow on the table at Roland Garros, will be the main round to follow during the next days in the 19th arrondissement.
In other circumstances, today, the start of the tournament, there would surely be talk of the preponderance of Roger Federer and his delicacies on the grass, but times have changed. Now, the Swiss faces the appointment in his garden surrounded by questions and with a rather low spirits. His goal, he says, is to reach the second week, and from there it will be seen. That is, everything is different. The king goes to slipstream, Nole intimidates and the rest, those young people who are taking shape and begin to show their fangs definitively, trust in that margin of unpredictability that the green tennis, only suitable for the brave and given like none to the chimes. This is Wimbledon, certainties are rare.
In any case, this edition begins with those provided by Djokovic’s layout this year, from notch to notch the Balkan at 34 years: trophy in Melbourne, trophy in Paris and 19 grand. Only one behind the record shared by Federer (39) and Rafael Nadal (35), the one in the doldrums, the other recovering from the effort made on the clay court tour and listening to his body, which invited him to pause and, incidentally, to reflect on tomorrow. Therefore, Nole finds himself before a desired scenario to continue giving free rein to his voracity, because he wants everything. And everything is everything.
“The level of trust is high,” he acknowledged in the media attention session. “I have won the two Grand Slams this year and I played very well in Paris, although that tournament also meant me physically and emotionally,” said the Belgrade, five-time Wimbledon champion and winner in three of the last six editions, in the last two passages. “I love this place. When I was a child, I dreamed of winning here and playing on this track gives me goosebumps ”, he prolonged before the journalists without forgetting, to himself, the episode a couple of years ago, when the English stands completely overturned with Federer in that impressive final.
That day, Federer wasted two match balls that, had he converted, would have earned him his 21st major title and an oxygen ball that he now demands more than ever. “I never thought I would play until 40, much less with the last operations I have had. But I still love tennis, I enjoy it. We will see what happens here and if the results arrive or not. For this reason, this Wimbledon is very important for me ”, admits the one from Basel, who will debut tomorrow against the Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. Today, on the other side of the table –then they would collide until a hypothetical final–, the Serbian opens before the local Jack Draper (14.30, Movistar).
“Right now I have 19 grand, so I know what the prospect is of being 19, but not of being 20. Hopefully I can find out in a few weeks … The Grand Slam is the biggest motivation I have at this stage of my career. I want to take advantage of these tournaments to reach greater heights, playing my best tennis. This has been the case during my last year and a half, and it will be until the end of my career ”, he recalls while from the sidelines also awaiting the answer that more and more consolidated alternatives can give such as Daniil Medvedev –winner in the preparatory of Mallorca -, Stefanos Tsitsipas –finalist at Roland Garros– or the German Alexander Zverev –every time sharper–.
“Young people are here to try to stop him, to try to prevent his dream [conquistar el Golden Slam: los cuatro majors y el oro olímpico en la misma temporada]. It will be complicated, but we are hungry ”, warns the Greek Tsitsipas, who won two sets two weeks ago in Paris, the scene of another acceleration in the great historical three-way battle. In any case, Wimbledon takes off this Monday with an inevitable signal in the men’s box: Can someone with the inflated Djokovic?
MUGURUZA DEBUTS, SERENA QUITS TOKYO
This Monday, at the starting point of the tournament, Garbiñe Mugruruza will step on the grass of Court 2 to face the French Fiona Ferro. The 27-year-old Spaniard managed to lift the champion tray in 2017 and is confident of playing a good role this edition, after suffering a severe blow in Paris. There, he stumbled in the first round against Marta Kostyuk.
Along with her, eight other Spaniards will debut this Monday: Roberto Bautista (John Millman), Aljenadro Davidovich (Denis Kudla), Feliciano López (Daniel Evans), Albert Ramos (Fabio Fognini), Pablo Andújar (Pierre-Hugues Herbert), Roberto Carballés ( Vasek Pospisil), Pedro Martínez (Stefano Travaglia) and Bernabé Zapata (Cristian Garín).
The day’s line-up also includes attractions such as the parade by Djokovic and Tsitsipas (Frances Tiafoe), or the reappearance of Scotsman Andy Murray (Nikoloz Basilashvili) on a grand stage. Two-time champion Petra Kvitova (Sloane Stephens) and Polish Iga Swiatek (Su Wei-Hsieh) will also take part in the women’s draw. Meanwhile, Serena Williams will start her participation on Tuesday, against Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Before making another attempt to get her 24th majors, the American announced that she will not compete in the Tokyo Olympics. And he did it, of course, in his own way, with a brief message to journalists: “I am not on the Olympic list, not that I know of… If so, I shouldn’t be. There are many reasons why I have made this decision, but I don’t feel like talking about it. Maybe another day”.
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And now who stops Djokovic?