Djokovic ready to be first among equals at Wimbledon

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Federer eyes his ninth title here; ball in Serena’s court with rivals’ fitness doubts

Novak Djokovic targets a record-equalling 20th Major and sixth Wimbledon title from Monday which will edge him tantalisingly closer to becoming only the third man in history to complete a calendar Grand Slam.

The World No. 1 has already won a ninth Australian Open and second French Open this season.

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That has put him halfway to emulating Don Budge (1937) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) in sweeping all four Majors in the same year.

It is a feat even his closest rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have never managed.

Djokovic memorably captured a fifth Wimbledon in 2019, saving two championship points to defeat Federer in the longest ever final at the All England Club at four hours and 57 minutes.

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He was deprived of defending his title in 2020 when Wimbledon was cancelled due to the pandemic.

The Serb starts his defence on Monday against British World No. 250 Jack Draper, who was born just 9.5km from the All England Club.

Nadal, the Wimbledon champion in 2008 and 2010, has already withdrawn from this year’s tournament.

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Eight-time winner Federer will be 40 in August and has won just one match on grass at Halle in the build-up to Wimbledon.

Federer, who underwent two knee surgeries in 2020, won the last of his eight Wimbledons in 2017 and the most recent of his 20 majors in Australia in 2018.

The Swiss star has lost three finals to Djokovic at the All England Club —- 2014, 2015 and the epic 2019 clash.

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Federer, in the opposite half of the draw to Djokovic, begins his campaign on Tuesday against France’s Adrian Mannarino against whom he holds a 6-0 head-to-head advantage.

The rest of the current top 10 have endured relatively mediocre Wimbledon records.

Serena Williams, meanwhile, 40 on September 26 and the arrival of that landmark birthday will be all the sweeter if she has at last equalled Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

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The tennis legend could even hold the record outright if she wins both Wimbledon and the US Open but despite holding her own in the top 10, there is a fear that age is impacting her powers.

However, her chances of an eighth Wimbledon crown have improved with the withdrawals of World No. 2 Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep, who beat her in the 2019 final.

World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty will go into Wimbledon without a warm-up tournament on grass.

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However, she says she has recovered from the hip injury which forced her to withdraw from the French Open.

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