Fans ready to see warriors Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray battle at Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray
Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray (PC: X)

Two champions, both battling fitness issues, have decided to take a plunge in the men’s singles main draw at The Championships in Wimbledon, which begins on Monday. Yes, Novak Djokovic, who underwent a knee meniscus tear surgery, bang in the middle of the French Open, has decided he will fight it out for a 25th Grand Slam title. As the second seed, he knows, the path ahead is not easy. Fitness and form, both will determine if Djokovic can last a fortnight on grass.

If Djokovic is making a brave bid and competing at Wimbledon, the same goes for Murray, who wants to play just for the emotions, as this is his last year on the tennis tour. In fact, he may just play Wimbledon and the Paris Olympics, then retire. Sir Andy had a ‘back issue’ and underwent a minor procedure just a week ago. He has not practiced and the return to tennis is risky. Murray’s first round match is against Tomas Machac on Tuesday. If at all he steps on court or not is a huge suspense.

In contrast, Djokovic has been at rehab and strength conditioning just a few days after his procedure. When the winner of 24 Grand Slam titles landed in London earlier this week, he hit the ground running. Wearing an open patella knee strap and also a sleeve on his right elbow for protection, Djokovic has weighed the pros and cons. But then, when he spoke to the media three days back, he said that he is not at Wimbledon 2024 just to be present. It is a signal Djokovic wants to compete hard and go deep into the draw.

To be sure, Djokovic has not been at 100 per cent in terms of fitness for the last few years. He has dealt with problems associated with long years of competing, first as a journeyman on the tennis circuit, and then going on to win 24 Majors. When Djokovic had a muscle tear in his abdomen last year at the Australian Open, he was in intense pain. Yet, he played match after match and won the season’s first Grand Slam of 2023. It was only later, Djokovic and his team revealed to the public how badly he was hurt, with the MRI scan report being made public.

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Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray
Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray (PC: X)

Last year, Djokovic had lost the Wimbledon final to Carlos Alcaraz, the rising star. Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner represent the new generation. In terms of fitness, Djokovic may be inferior to Alcaraz, but not tennis-wise. The Serbian hero’s rich experience will be valuable and he will be playing each match with focus and also hoping the grass at Wimbledon will not be slippery.

As the winner of seven titles at Wimbledon, Djokovic knows, he has plenty of people backing him emotionally. But then, emotions alone cannot win you matches at a Grand Slam.

Even during the peak Covid pandemic, Djokovic was fighting his battles alone. Seen as an anti-vaxxer, he was slammed by many, from 2020 onwards, for nearly two three years. He did not budge, even though the Australian Open and US Open had said he could not fly in as he had not taken those vaccines. The maverick star is still not vaccinated and was fearless in dealing with the Covid pandemic.

It is this same streak of “madness” which will ensure Djokovic puts in his best effort at Wimbledon 2024. The odds are stacked against him but he is not losing sleep over it. For the record, unlike Murray, Djokovic is not talking about this being his last Wimbledon.

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