Five players who can challenge Djokovic

Novak Djokovic, who has already won the Australian Open and the French Open, will certainly start as the favourite for his third consecutive Wimbledon title. But he will have to come up against strong contenders who all have something to prove.

Novak Djokovic obliges a young fan after a practice session at Wimbledon.   -  Getty Images

The Wimbledon is just a couple of days away, and if you look at the men’s draw Novak Djokovic seems unstoppable at the moment. He is eyeing a Golden Slam (winning all four majors and the Olympic gold) this year. The Serb, who has already won the Australian Open and the French Open, will certainly start as the favourite for his third consecutive Wimbledon title. But he will have to come up against strong contenders who all have something to prove. Here are the five players who can challenge Djokovic for the title.

ROGER FEDERER: Once the undisputed king of grass, the 34-year-old Swiss has seen his grip slip in recent times and questions are being raised over his ability to win another Grand Slam title. He recently missed his first Grand Slam tournament — the French Open — in 17 years and hasn’t won any major since 2012.

But if there is any Grand Slam you’d back him to win, it’s the Wimbledon. He is the joint record holder with Pete Sampras — seven titles each — and has managed to reach the final in the last two championships.

Federer has been plagued by injuries this season, ever since his semi-final loss to Djokovic at the Australian Open. He missed the Indian Wells and the ATP events in Dubai and Rotterdam due to a knee injury. He returned for the Monte-Carlo Masters where he lost in the quarter-finals. He then had back problems which forced him out of the French Open. He made his return at the Stuttgart Open where he lost in the semis. Recently, at the Halle Open, too, Federer lost in the semifinals. When it comes to head-to-head, Federer and Djokovic have met 45 times with Djokovic leading 23-22. On grass, Djokovic leads 2-1 which includes the last two finals at SW19.

DOMINIC THIEM: Other than Djokovic, if there is any player who has been consistent in 2016, it’s this 22-year-old from Austria. The youngster has won four ATP titles this year and also reached the semifinals of the French Open. His career high ranking of No. 7 was also achieved this season. He defeated Rafael Nadal twice on clay. Many people see him only as a clay court player but he has won titles on three different surfaces this year. He trained with Roger Federer in Zurich and now has already beaten him twice this season.

On grass, Thiem has a 7-1 record this season with victories over the likes of Nishikori, Verdasco, Youzhny and Federer. However, he is yet to beat Djokovic in all three matches he has played against the Serb. The two have never met on grass. It was Djokovic who ended Thiem's run in the French Open, beating him in the semi-final.

Hopefully, we can expect a few surprises from this young Austrian.

ANDY MURRAY: The local British hope will be looking for his second Wimbledon crown. He will possibly be the biggest threat to Djokovic’s bid for a third consecutive title. Murray has had a fine 2016 season — he reached the finals of the Australian Open and the French Open but lost both to Djokovic. However, grass is a surface on which Murray thrives.

Djokovic and Murray have met 34 times, with the Serb winning on 24 occasions. However on grass, these two have met only twice and Murray has beaten Djokovic on both the occasions. These victories were special for Murray — one came in the 2013 Wimbledon final, which was Murray’s first Grand Slam. The other was in the 2012 London Olympics semifinal. Murray eventually won the gold medal. Murray's form running up to the Wimbledon has been good and he recently won his fifth Queen’s title which is a record. He is seeded No. 2 in The Championship and we could be up for yet another Djokovic-Murray final!

MILOS RAONIC: He has been around for six years, but only in the last couple of years has Raonic been successful in making a name for himself. The big Canadian has one of the most powerful serves in the game, earning him the nickname ‘Missile’. In 2016, he has a 31-8 win record which includes one title, the Brisbane Open, where he defeated Federer in the final.

Although Raonic prefers hard courts, he has turned his focus on grass and got John McEnroe into his coaching team, especially for the grass season. It already seems to be paying off as Raonic reached the final of Queen’s for the first time. However, a major worry for Raonic and McEnroe will be how to tackle Djokovic, if they get to face him in the tournament. Raonic has faced Djokovic seven times and lost all of them. In fact, his record against the ‘big four’ isn’t very impressive. In 33 matches he has only beaten them six times, but with McEnroe now in his corner, you can surely expect some improvement.

BERNARD TOMIC: The young Australian will be the player to watch out for outside the top 10. He is often criticised for his on court attitude, with many coaches blaming it for his poor performances. Djokovic, too, pulled up Tomic and said that he needs to be more committed to the game, after he held the racquet wrongly while facing match point in the Madrid Open.

He has a 19-15 win/loss record this year but has been in impressive form running up to the Wimbledon. He reached the quarter-finals in the Ricoh Open in Holland and in the Queen’s, he reached the semi-finals defeating the likes of Kevin Anderson, Fernando Verdasco and Giles Muller. He is also practising with Lleyton Hewitt to improve his game on grass. This has been his most impressive run on grass till date. His head-to-head with Djokovic isn’t as impressive as he has lost all the five meetings between the two, which includes two on grass at Wimbledon.