Is Novak Djokovic the favorite at Wimbledon?

Djokovic’s reply: “I mean, I don’t want to sound arrogant, but of course I would consider myself the favorite"

Britain Wimbledon Tennis. AP


Novak Djokovic looked as if he were a bit surprised by the question.

And maybe he should have been.

The query, essentially, was this: Are you the favorite to win the championship at Wimbledon? Now, sure, there is some work to be done to collect that trophy.

First Djokovic, 36, needs to beat No. 8 seed Jannik Sinner, 21, on Friday in what represents the largest age gap between two men's semifinalists at the All England Club in the professional era, which began in 1968.

And after that, Djokovic would need to beat the winner of that day’s other match — No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz or No. 3 Daniil Medvedev — in the final on Sunday.

I would consider myself the favorite

This, then, was Djokovic’s reply: “I mean, I don’t want to sound arrogant, but of course I would consider myself the favorite.”

What Djokovic might have been forgiven for saying, but was too polite to, was: “Come on, my friend. Is that really what you want to ask? Of course I expect to win the title. And you should expect me to win the title. And everybody should expect me to win the title.”

Start by looking at his accomplishments relative to the other three men still around at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament:

—Djokovic has won seven Wimbledon titles. The other three guys have won a total of zero.

—Djokovic has reached his 12th Wimbledon semifinal. The other three guys have never played in one.

—Djokovic has won a men's-record 23 Grand Slam titles, including both so far this year. The other three guys have won a total of two: Medvedev at the 2021 U.S. Open, Alcaraz at the 2022 U.S. Open.

Major semifinal on Friday

—Djokovic will be participating in his 46th major semifinal on Friday, equaling Roger Federer's record for men. The other three guys have raised their combined total to 10: Medvedev is into his sixth, Alcaraz his third, Sinner his first.

And then there's also this: Djokovic is a combined 12-5 against the other three guys head-to-head. He leads Sinner 2-0, including a win in last year's Wimbledon quarterfinals. Sinner took the first two sets in that one but blew the huge lead and lost in five.

After eliminating No. 7 Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals Tuesday, Djokovic was asked during his on-court interview what it feels like to constantly be the player every else is focused on trying to beat.

“I know they want ... to win,” he said. “But it ain’t happening. Still.”

One thing working in Djokovic's favor these days, unlike during most of his time on tour, is he no longer needs to deal with Federer, who announced his retirement last year, and currently does not need to worry about Rafael Nadal, who has been sidelined since January with a bad hip and indicated that, if he is able to return to competition, 2024 will be his final season.

Will be Sinner

Next to try to solve Djokovic, who has won 26 consecutive Grand Slam matches overall and 33 in a row at Wimbledon, will be Sinner, considered one of the leading members of the sport's next generation.

Djokovic's scouting report on Sinner: “He’s so young, so of course it’s expected that he’s going to improve. He is improving, no doubt, I think, with the serve. He’s been serving better. On grass, obviously, (that) makes a difference. He’s a very complete player."

Sinner's description of facing Djokovic: “It is also a little bit mental, no? If you play against Novak, it’s always tough to play ... especially (at) Grand Slams.”

At 20, Alcaraz is even younger than Sinner, against whom he is already developing a rivalry thanks to some stirring matches between them. And Alcaraz has accomplished more so far. But he wants to do much more in the sport.

He and Medvedev, 27, offer contrasting styles that could produce a scintillating matchup. Still, all eyes on Friday — and, most assume, Sunday, too — will be on Djokovic.