Motivation won’t be an issue for Novak Djokovic as he attempts to retain his Wimbledon crown, with Greg Rusedski suggesting the Serb will be “hurt” and “angry” following this year’s developments
The 2022 season has not been one to remember for Novak Djokovic, who will be “angry” and “hurt” as he gets his Wimbledon title defence underway later this month.
That’s according to former British No. 1 Greg Rusedski, who has highlighted Djokovic’s mental strength as one factor that sets him apart from the rest. There’s plenty of tennis talent heading to SW19 in fine fettle, but Djokovic’s quest to catch up to rival Rafael Nadal in major titles is a key part of the 2022 storyline.
“The problem you have is, you have players who have the potential but winning is a totally different thing,” Rusedski told Amazon Prime of Djokovic, who recently lost to rival Nadal at the French Open. “Making the finals is one thing, but you have to have this mindset that’s absolutely insane these days because of the big three or four we’ve had over the generations.
“Djokovic is angry because he hasn’t won a Slam this year and the way he went out to Rafa in the French Open will have hurt him. Rafa’s trying to go for the calendar Slam. He wouldn’t be showing up if his foot wasn’t 100 per cent and he was ready to go and Berrettini has been by far the best.”
One could forgive the 20-time Grand Slam for feeling as though the world is against him, having been booted from the Australian Open draw due to his stance against the Covid vaccine. Nadal would go on to rub his nose further by lifting the crown in Melbourne, setting a new record of 21 major wins.
As referenced by Rusedski, Nadal extended that haul further when he beat Djokovic in his favoured French Open, where the crowd rallied behind the eventual 14-time champ. The Spaniard has a chance to win all four majors in the same year for the first time in his career, while ‘Nole’ is playing catch-up.
Rusedski—who lost the U.S. Open final against Patrick Rafter in 1997—highlighted world No. 10 Hubert Hurkacz as another in-form player who could be a threat in London. However, he specified Djokovic, Nadal and Berrettini have “separated themselves from the pack” based on their recent form.
With Daniil Medvedev banned from Wimbledon and Alexander Zverev currently out injured, world No. 3 Djokovic will be the top seed when the tournament gets underway on Monday. He could become the first player to win four straight majors in London since Roger Federer made it five in a row between 2003 and 2007.
He’ll fancy his chances should he meet Nadal considering it’s been 14 years since the ‘King of Clay’ bested him on grass. A history of success at SW19 combined with Djokovic’s emotional state could make for the perfect storm, though his bid for a 21st Grand Slam win will be anything but smooth sailing.