Novak Djokovic “doesn’t need to think about Nadal” as Wimbledon pressure ramps up

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Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic is keen to focus solely on his own game as he prepares to defend his title and close the gap to Rafael Nadal in the grand slam race

Tennis legend Novak Djokovic has been told to put great rival Rafael Nadal to the back of his mind as he prepares for Wimbledon. The Serbian has dominated the All-England Club in recent years and has not tasted defeat there since he retired from his quarter-final clash with Tomas Berdych in 2017.

But after a turbulent campaign in which he played just one tournament in the first three months of the year, this may prove to be the 35-year-old’s toughest title defence to date. A crushing loss to Nadal at the French Open earlier this month, which the Spaniard went on to win to take his grand slam tally to 22 in the process, will leave the former world number one determined to triumph at SW19 once again.

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After much speculation, barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Mallorca native will take to Wimbledon’s hallowed turf for the first time since 2019 and compete for his third consecutive major title. The draw has placed Djokovic and Nadal as the top two seeds, meaning they cannot meet until the final.

Naturally the tennis star will have his eye on the movements of a former two-time Wimbledon champion. But Eurosport commentator and former player Alex Corretja said Djokovic needs to forget about Nadal’s progress in the Grand Slam race if he wants to have another successful campaign at the prestigious tournament. “Novak, he loves grass,” he said.

“He likes to play there and he knows the surface very well, he adjusts very well to these conditions. I know maybe he didn’t win Roland-Garros, and that was a little bit like, okay, he was trying to be ready. But Rafa played an unbelievable match [at Roland-Garros] and I think it should give him the calm to say ‘okay, I gave everything I had and now I need to focus on another thing’. Now it’s grass court season.

“I feel like Rafa Nadal now, he left a little [bit of a gap] with the Slams and now Djokovic needs to just recover his feelings. I don’t think he needs to think about Rafa or Rafa about Novak. Right now, they have this little gap. Let’s play and see how we feel after the tournament and see how it goes.”

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Djokovic has compiled a somewhat underrated record over the last decade, winning six of the last 11 editions of Wimbledon. During that run he defeated Nadal in the 2011 final, and notched three finals victories over Roger Federer, including the epic 2019 match, where the Swiss maestro succumbed to defeat having had two championship points on his own serve.

Due to his impressive record, Corretja believes Djokovic will prove incredibly difficult to beat on grass. “Novak, I think starting the tournament, you know that he might be probably the man to beat because he’s been doing very well. He’s been winning there,” the 48-year-old added.

“He’s the defending champion, and I think it’s going to be super difficult to beat him. He serves great, he returns perfect, he moves well, he plays deep. So I don’t think there are too many guys on the draw that they really feel that they can beat Novak best-of-five on grass.”

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