Tennis: Djokovic in Wimbledon: From crutches in Paris to the title?

Tennis: Djokovic in Wimbledon: From crutches in Paris to the title?
Tennis: Djokovic in Wimbledon: From crutches in Paris to the title?

There was a big question mark over Novak Djokovic’s form and fitness at the start of Wimbledon. Now the Serbian tennis star is playing for another place in the final and fighting for his acceptance.

When Novak Djokovic showed up with crutches and the Eiffel Tower in Paris in the background, a Wimbledon triumph seemed almost impossible. But just five weeks later, the only way to the title in south-west London is through him again. Sometimes it seems as if the long-time former world number one draws strength from adversity. Be it from the doubts and doubters about his fitness or the lack of recognition from the audience, which culminated in his strange “Gooooood night” wish at Wimbledon.

A lot is going well for the 37-year-old at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club these days. And what the world number two has made clear since his arrival, he has long since proven: “I didn’t come here to play a few rounds. I really want to play for the title.”

Grand Slam semi-final debutant as next opponent

His Wimbledon semi-final on Friday against Lorenzo Musetti should be a doable task for him. While Djokovic is aiming for his 25th title in one of the sport’s four most important tournaments, the Italian from the small town of Carrara in Tuscany, who is 15 years younger, is in a Grand Slam semi-final for the first time. “He probably knows the surface and the stadium better than I do,” Musetti said with a laugh. “All joking aside, he is a legend everywhere, but especially here at Wimbledon.”

In the quarterfinals, Djokovic’s relatively smooth path through the 137th edition of Wimbledon was made even easier when the Australian Alex de Minaur withdrew from the match with a hip injury just hours before the match. After his relatively easy draw and the injuries of potentially tricky opponents such as Hamburg’s Alexander Zverev, Djokovic now also has three days off. Such a break is unusual in tennis, but it should benefit the Serb’s knee.

Djokovic is a relaxed family man at Wimbledon, making a declaration of love with his children Stefan and Tara Albert and his wife Jelena on their tenth wedding anniversary. But the meniscus tear he suffered in the round of 16 at the French Open has not changed his ambitions. On Sunday he wants to hold the trophy for his eighth Wimbledon triumph in his hands and finally celebrate his first tournament victory in what has been a disappointing year for him so far.

Djokovic in the shadow of Federer and Nadal

He has not yet added any more to his 24 triumphs at Grand Slam events in this season, which has so far been completely titleless. But no matter how many titles and triumphs the record Grand Slam winner manages to achieve, he is still fighting for the acceptance and popularity of a now retired Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal.

In the round of 16, he was once again faced with rejection. After a somewhat shaky start in the first rounds, he performed convincingly against Holger Rune, who was enthusiastically supported by the crowd. Djokovic heard it as boos.

“To all those who have decided not to respect the player, in this case me, I wish you a goooooood night. Goooood night. Goooood night. Very goooood night,” Djokovic said provocatively during the winner’s interview on Centre Court. He refused to accept that it was just a misunderstanding. “I know all the tricks. I know how it works.” But that doesn’t bother him.

Djokovic received support from tennis icon John McEnroe: “He’s been battling with it his whole career. And yes, he feeds off the negative energy,” said the ex-professional, formerly a bad boy, on the BBC. He admired Djokovic for having the courage to make such a speech, because in a way it could turn even more people against him. “We need him, he’s too great for our game,” said McEnroe.

Source: Stern

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