Misc Tennis

How will Novak Djokovic fare in Week 2 of Wimbledon?

How will Novak Djokovic fare in Week 2 of Wimbledon?

WIMBLEDON, England — This time last year, Novak Djokovic arrived fresh off his third Roland Garros title, a heavy favorite to win Wimbledon for a record-equaling eighth time. He was the four-time defending champion, and after winning majors in both Australia and France, was looking to complete the third leg of the calendar Grand Slam. He cruised through his first three rounds without dropping a set and reached the final in style, but was edged out by Carlos Alcaraz in a thrilling final.

This year, with doubts about his fitness because of recent knee surgery, he has had to work a little harder in the first week, dropping two sets, but still looks strong. Here’s how his first week has gone as he chases a record-breaking 25th major.

His movement is not yet 100 percent

When Djokovic withdrew before his French Open quarterfinal because of a knee injury — and then announced he’d had surgery to repair his meniscus — most people thought this summer’s Olympics might be in doubt, let alone Wimbledon. But he made it, sporting a hefty brace on his right knee.

In general, his movement has been good, but it’s clear that moving to his right, at full stretch, is an issue. Sliding has always been a key part of his movement, but he has been a little reluctant to push himself to his forehand. In his first-round match, a confident 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win over Vit Kopriva, he only slid once to his forehand.

“I felt happy that I did it because in a way you also feel mentally hesitant to do those extreme movements,” he said. “But knowing that I can do it is, obviously, very comforting and very positive.”

Djokovic is trying to shorten the points

Not surprisingly, so soon after surgery and also at the age of 37, it looks as if Djokovic is trying to shorten the points to take the load off his knee and be as efficient as possible. In the 0-4 rally category — where the majority of points are won in matches — he’s been more dominant than he was in the first three rounds 12 months ago.

Over the three rounds so far, he’s won 258 points and lost 188 (57.8%), compared to 207/185 (52.9%) in 2023. His first-round win here this year was one-sided, but considering that he did not drop a set in his first three rounds last year and has dropped two sets so far, that’s a big increase. When the rallies go 5-8 shots, he’s 67-61, compared to 70-38 last year, and when they go 9+, he’s 38-33 compared to 37-22 last year.

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