photo : martin sidorjak
On Sunday Novak Djokovic will attempt to win his seventh trophy at Wimbledon. If he is victorious in the Gentlemen’s final, he will tie Pete Sampras for the second most titles at the All England Club. The only man with more is Roger Federer whose won eight.
There is almost no chance that Federer will win another Wimbledon. His last victory came in 2017, his last final in 2019, and this year he was absent. In one month, he will turn 41 and if he does play at Wimbledon again it is likely to be more of a swan song than a legitimate contest.
Novak is still at the height of his career and is on a 27-match win streak at Wimbledon. If he defeats Nick Kyrgios, it will be his 4th championship in a row. No other player can challenge him on grass at the moment. At 35 it’s very possible he could surpass Federer’s record. Not only is it possible, but it’s also practically inevitable.
Should Novak hold the record, the question becomes is he the best grass court player in history? First, is Federer presently the best grass court player in history? It’s hard to quantify because historically there were many more tournaments played on grass. Even other grand slams used to be played on grass.
The easiest way to decide is to focus on the one tournament that has throughout all time been the crown jewel of the lawns. Djokovic already holds the head-to-head edge 3-1 over Federer at Wimbledon. The three wins all came in the 2014, 2015 and 2019 finals. Federer has lost four finals total with the addition of the 2008 loss to Rafa Nadal. Meanwhile, Djokovic only lost one final to Andy Murray in 2013.
Sampras went 7-0 in his Wimbledon finals and has the best tournament win percentage of the three. The winning percentages are Sampras 90%, Djokovic 89%, and Federer 88%. All close to one another. At the end of the day win percentages, head-to-head, and record in finals only come into play if there’s a tie for the most titles.
Everyone in the tennis world knows that grand slam titles are the most important metric of success. If Djokovic manages to win nine or even ten or more Wimbledon titles, there will be no question. These statistics matter only if he finishes tied with Federer. If they are tied, it’s also quite clear that Djokovic still holds the edge unless he suddenly loses in the finals the next three years. Or the even more unlikely, Federer beats him twice and evens the head-to-head.
What this means is that Novak is potentially one win from being just one title away from the best Wimbledon player and arguably best grass court player in history…
He is a huge favourite against Kyrgios who will be playing in his first major final. Not to mention Djokovic has not lost a match on Centre Court since that 2013 final loss to Andy Murray. No offence to Kyrgios but he’s no Andy Murray.
There will always be debates on the best grass court player but there’s no debating Sunday’s final will write tennis history.