close
close

Wimbledon men’s singles: three talking points

Carlos Alcaraz © Gallo Images

Carlos Alcaraz will defend his men’s title at Wimbledon from Monday, with his main rival likely to be world number 1 Jannik Sinner instead of Novak Djokovic.

Victory for the 21-year-old Spanish crowd-pleaser will give him back-to-back Grand Slam crowns after his triumph at the French Open and a fourth major.

Djokovic, the seven-time champion, is doubtful due to his injury, as is Andy Murray, winner of 2013 and 2016.

AFP Sport looks at three talking points ahead of the tournament which starts at the All England Club on Monday.

SUNSET ON GOLDEN GENERATION?

Eight-time champion Roger Federer has retired, two-time winner Rafael Nadal is quitting the tournament to focus on the Olympics, seven-time champion Novak Djokovic has just undergone knee surgery, while Andy Murray, who lifted the 2013 Wimbledon trophy and 2016, had back surgery.

The result is that the 2024 Wimbledon men’s final will likely be the first in 22 years not to feature at least one of the legendary ‘Big Four’.

The 37-year-old Djokovic lost an exciting five-set final to Alcaraz last year.

This year he has seen Sinner take his Australian Open title, while having to withdraw from his quarter-final at Roland Garros due to a knee injury.

Alcaraz filled the power vacuum and also won the Serbian title in Paris.

“I will really only play (at Wimbledon) if I know that I am in a good enough state to go far in the tournament and fight for the title, so that is the condition,” Djokovic told reporters after a training in London. week, his right knee still heavily strapped.

Murray, a former world No. 1, also 37, famously defeated Djokovic in the 2013 final, ending a 77-year wait for a British men’s champion at Wimbledon.

Murray is now ranked 115th, but underwent surgery last weekend to remove a cyst on his back.

Like Djokovic, it is not certain that he will play, but a decision must be made on Friday, when the draw takes place.

ALCARAZ, SINNER OPEN NEW ERA

It’s been 21 years since at least one of the first two Grand Slam titles of the year was not claimed by Federer, Nadal or Djokovic.

For Andre Agassi and Juan Carlos Ferrero at the 2003 Australian Open and Roland Garros respectively, read Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz in 2024.

Sinner, a year younger than Alcaraz at 22, is the first Italian to become world number 1 and showed no sign of being bothered by his exalted status as he claimed a maiden grass title in Halle last weekend.

“I’m looking forward to Wimbledon,” said Sinner, who was a semifinalist in 2023 and lost to Djokovic in straight sets.

“Last year I played good tennis. I definitely have more self-confidence.”

AMERICAN DREAMERS

In the Open era, there has been an American winner of the men’s title 15 times – almost twice as many as the next best, Switzerland’s eight or Roger Federer to be more precise.

However, it has been 24 years since the last American victory thanks to Pete Sampras’ seventh and final crown.

Andy Roddick lost three finals, all against Federer in 2004, 2005 and 2009.

“I threw the sink at him, but he went to the bathroom and got his bathtub,” an exasperated Roddick said of the 2004 finals loss.

This year the United States has four men in the top 20, while Tommy Paul is buoyed by his first grass title at Queen’s.

Paul, now at a career-high 12 in the world, made the last 16 at the All England Club in 2022, while Taylor Fritz advanced to the quarter-finals that year to lose to Nadal in five sets.

Sebastian Korda, who also achieved a career-high ranking of 20, came second on grass in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and then reached the semi-finals at Queen’s.

Korda reached the last sixteen at Wimbledon in 2021. At least he has a family goal to focus on: his father Petr reached the quarterfinals in 1998, the same year he won the Australian Open.