Former British No 1 predicts Novak Djokovic is primed for glorious summer of winning

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic is still the man to beat
Novak Djokovic is still the man to beat

Novak Djokovic is still the man to beat on the men’s tour and will head into Wimbledon this summer with extra motivation to win a record-equalling eighth title.

That’s the verdict of former British No 1 Andrew Castle, who does not believe Djokovic’s indifferent form is a sign that he is reaching the end of his era of domination.

The Serbian winning machine claimed three of the four Grand Slams in 2023, but he has struggled to make his mark this year and has failed to win a tournament since his victory at the ATP Finals last November.

Defeat against Jannik Sinner in the Australian Open ended his reign as champion in Melbourne last January and he has suffered defeats against Luca Nardi and Casper Ruud in the only other two tournaments he has competed in this year.

Yet the tide appears to be turning in favour of Djokovic at the perfect moment, with Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz both struggling with injuries ahead of the French Open and Djokovic aiming to find his best form at this week’s Rome Masters.

That is a scrip that leads Castle, who will be lead commentator for the BBC at Wimbledon once again this summer, to suggest Djokovic will be eyeing up more glory in a summer when he also has his focus trained on Olympic Gold in Paris.

“If you ask me who is going to win Wimbledon on the men’s side, I would have to say Novak,” Castle told Tennis365 at a Game4Padel event.

“If you were betting on someone, why would you bet against the bloke who has done it all before?

“I think grass is the most specialist of all the surfaces. Some players don’t really think they have got a chance on it.

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“There are less surprise winners likely to emerge at Wimbledon than all the other Grand Slams for that reason.

“You really need to believe you can do it and Novak knows that.

“The generation that spawned these all-time greats of our sport is coming to a close. Roger has gone, Rafa is coming towards the end of his career and things are changing.

“We have great new champions coming through, so it’s going to be a fascinating few months, but I still feel Novak is the man to beat when we get to Wimbledon.”

Castle also picked out a player to watch ahead of a crucial few weeks in tennis, as he suggested Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov will be a player to watch in the upcoming Grand Slams.

“I’ll be fascinated to see if Grigor Dimitrov can get something going at over the next few weeks,” he added.

“He’s a beautiful player to watch and it would be great to see him getting a good run at the end of his career. He has yet to win a Slam and no one would want to play him if he can get on a roll because he has been playing some great tennis over the last year.”

Andrew Castle spoke to Tennis365 at the opening of the new Game4Padel courts at the Parkside Padel Club in Southall. The new Club is situated in Berkeley Group’s new West London residential development which is one of London’s biggest regeneration projects.