Meet the world No 277 who once beat Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner – and now faces Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon

World No 277 Jacob Fearnley celebrates winning a point at Wimbledon
Jacob Fearnley next faces Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic faced little trouble in his opening match at Wimbledon on Tuesday, easing past Czech qualifier Vit Kopriva.

Doubts circled over the seven-time Wimbledon champion amid his recent meniscus surgery, but a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory over his opponent was as emphatic as it could have been for him.

Now, Djokovic faces a different test in the form of a British wildcard: Jacob Fearnley.

Fearnley has been one of the biggest stories of the summer from a British perspective and will look to cause a stunning upset on Thursday.

We take you through all you need to know about one of tennis’ most exciting young stars.

Junior success

Born and raised in Edinburgh, Fearnley started playing tennis as a child and became one of the best junior players in the world.

The 22-year-old hit with eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer at the All England Club as a teenager – a great indicator of his early potential.

But perhaps his greatest claim to fame is being one of just a handful of players to defeat Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner, having done so during his junior career.

Fearnley, who reached the top 30 of the Junior ITF Rankings, actually beat Alcaraz in the world No 3’s own backyard in Spain.

“Obviously those guys, their careers went in a totally different way than mine,” Fearnley said, speaking to the ATP.

“I went to college and those guys are the best in the world. It’s still a pretty cool thing to tell people.”

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Collegiate star

College tennis has become an increasingly viable pathway for players to progress into the professional game, with John Isner, Danielle Collins, and Cameron Norrie among the biggest success stories.

And, much like fellow Brit Norrie, Fearnley played for Texas Christian University, forging a hugely successful collegiate career.

Across his five years of action, he compiled an impressive 85-32 win-loss record in singles play, and a 70-30 record in doubles.

He was a four-time ITA All-American, achieving that feat in singles in 2023 and 2024, and in doubles in 2022 and 2023.

Recent rise

Fearnley’s first significant breakthrough in the professional circuit came a year ago when he and fellow collegiate star Johannus Monday claimed the doubles title at the Challenger event in Nottingham.

The pair received a wildcard into the men’s doubles draw at Wimbledon off the back of that, reaching the second round.

This year, Fearnley entered Nottingham singles qualifying as a wildcard, picking up two wins to reach the main draw – but he didn’t stop there.

The 22-year-old progressed to the quarter-final of the main draw, where he stunned third seed and rising star Jerry Shang 7-5, 7-5 to reach the last four.

He then Mattia Bellucci for the loss of just four games in their semi-final, before beating compatriot Charles Broom to claim the biggest title of his career so far.

That was followed by a wildcard into the Eastbourne International, where he made his tour debut in a loss to Billy Harris, and then a wildcard into Wimbledon.

Fearnley was one of the most impressive British performers in round one, downing qualifier Alejandro Moro Cañas in straight sets.

Now, he will face one of the all-time greats – most likely on Centre Court.

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