Novak Djokovic, not Roger Federer, is the man to beat at this year’s Wimbledon Championships.
Now I know what you’re thinking: how on Earth can the former world number one, who has been a shadow of the player who dominated the ATP Tour for many seasons, be the man to beat?
Even though his tennis outings over the last year or so have not brought the 12-time slam winner much joy, his recent form suggests a much brighter future.
His occasional strategy coach, Craig O’Shannessy, has tipped the 12th seed to go all the way and win his fourth title at the most prestigious tournament of them all.
Djokovic has won a higher percentage of baseline points than anyone else in the draw, at 62 per cent, which O’Shannessy believes is key to his chances.
“Novak is playing at a very good level again,” O’Shannessy says.
“He is finding his game, he is finding his range. A lot of people had written him off, that he has lost his level, but you can see the energy coming back. He is playing with passion, he is playing with purpose and he is playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder.
“With that, he can become a very dangerous player.”
Djokovic’s baseline point winning stats are three per cent superior to defending champion Roger Federer, five ahead of Juan Martin Del Potro, eight ahead of Kei Nishikori, and 11 in front of Rafael Nadal.
Moreover, the courts are set to become less green and begin to crack up, conditions that favour baseliners, as the ball does not stay as low or skid through as much.
This also makes it easier for returners – and who is better at that part of the game than the 31-year-old Serb?
Federer has not been broken all tournament and is yet to drop a set, along with Nadal, but Djokovic has had the Swiss maestro’s number at SW19 in their last two meetings.
The Serb dismissed youngster Karen Khachanov in three sets on Monday to advance to the quarter-finals for the second straight year, where he will face a familiar foe in Nishikori.
His dominance over the Japanese player is more than likely to continue and although Nadal or Del Potro would be tough nuts to crack, they are definitely winnable matches.
We are in for a gripping final few days of the 2018 championships, that much is certain.