An opponent’s best bet is to try to out-attack Djokovic (really hard, Tom concedes), throw him off his rhythm (harder), and hope he has a bad day (fat chance.) What Tom was saying: Have you been watching Djokovic lately?
Maybe it was the wildly prolonged NBA playoffs and the Game 7 eye-popper between the Cavs and the Warriors, or Cleveland’s delightful shirts-optional parade three days later (J.
), or the Brexit uproar (I had to Google what it all means; I’m not ashamed), or our own genteel Presidential race (yikes).
Whatever the reason, I feel like Wimbledon—which begins Monday at the Chick-fil-A All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club; OK, kidding, Chick-fil-A didn’t buy naming rights—has suddenly, jarringly rushed in from the patio in its white shorts, a cable-knit sweater knotted around its neck. Fine: Maybe Wimbledon hasn’t snuck up on you in the slightest.
Maybe you’ve been marking down the days to tennis’s most magnificent major with a big green pen.
The funny thing is, Wimbledon now begins later than it used to—a full week later, in fact.
The thing used to wrap over the Fourth of July, with the late great Bud Collins rhapsodizing about half volleys in strawberry-colored pants. He’s the current defending champ in all four majors, a feat no men’s singles player has pulled off—in a calendar year or otherwise—since the majestic Oz man Rocket Rod Laver himself.
This year’s tournament finishes on Sunday, July 10. Ladbrokes and William Hill have him at 8-11 to win the thing—reverse odds! At the rate the British pound is going, Wimbledon winners might wind up with a balloon and a bag of sand. I know it’s crazy to talk like this in June, maybe even a little jinx-y and tacky, but a Djokovic Grand Slam isn’t some pie-in-the-sky fantasy.
That’s where—barring a major, earth-rattling upset—I expect you’ll find the tournament’s defending champion, Novak Djokovic, sliding back and forth on the baseline in an effort to secure his fourth men’s singles title at the Jiffy Lube All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. So let’s skip right ahead to the more intriguing question: Can Djokovic pull off a calendar Grand Slam in 2016? He’s already put the Australian Open and the French Open—the latter of which he’d never won previously—in his racket bag. Right now, it seems like a sober-minded prediction.
OK, relax, Jiffy Lube didn’t buy the naming rights, either. I believe this is OK to talk about, even before Wimbledon begins its opening rounds. He even has a real shot at a Steffi Graf-style “Golden Slam,” adding an Olympic gold medal in August.