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Wimbledon – along with the other three Grand Slams – is tennis’ version of ‘The Hunger Games’.

A series of mental and physical battles for players where only one can ultimately be left standing.

It is this survival-like notion that makes tennis a negatively geared sport.

Including those in qualifying, 239 male and female competitors will finish the event on a negative note – their tournament ceasing with just one solitary defeat.

And while some will achieve their goals and exceed individual expectations, just one – of the two hundred and forty – truly experiences their dream.

In any competition, beating out 239 others is difficult enough, but overcoming the top 239 tennis players on the planet takes it to another level.

And while the majority are unseeded and may not seem to add monumental value, the entire top 250 is made up of elite professionals, who have fought past the many hundreds more competing at the lower levels of the tour.

Take American Christopher Eubanks as an example, who started the month at world number 77 (after being outside the top 150 this time last year) and has now defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

There are always players in the draw that are dangerous and can test anyone – but it is the ability to withstand each challenge as they come, that builds Grand Slam champions.

Just ten men have managed to achieve the feat in the last 18 years. The group includes five one-time champions in Carlos Alcaraz, Marin Cilic, Juan Martin Del Potro, Daniil Medvedev, and Dominic Thiem; two three-time champions in Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka; and well, the other three have a combined sixty-five.

Each of tennis’ renowned ‘Big 3’ (Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer) have enjoyed periods of dominance that challenge the difficulty of winning majors.

Early on, Federer consistently reached the deep end of Grand Slams, triumphing on most occasions and Nadal’s reign over Roland Garros has almost created a sense of irrelevance for the remainder of the draw.

But most recently, 36-year-old Djokovic is dominating the tour in a range of facets – still tactically and strategically overcoming opponents, whilst wearing them down mentally more than ever.

Admittedly, I’ve never enjoyed seeing Djokovic win majors to the same degree as Nadal, but over the past few years, my respect and admiration for the Serbian has soared.

Despite constantly facing more scrutiny than any of the other 239 male players at a Grand Slam, he always performs like the most unphased athlete in the draw.

Entering this year’s Wimbledon, the bookmakers gave the 23-time major champion a greater chance of lifting the title than the rest of the field combined.

Remarkably, picking the winner of the next Ashes test would statistically be a more difficult task than choosing the men’s Wimbledon champion from a group of 240 players.

Djokovic’s pure ability to win – always raising his level in crucial moments and claiming the points that matter most – has created a sentiment that he is unbeatable and undermines the true challenge of winning a major title.

In the Wimbledon fourth round, the 36-year-old’s battle with Hubert Hurkacz was another occurrence where he simultaneously seemed pushed and in full control.

The Pole was two points from winning each of the opening two sets before taking the third, in a match that ultimately appears a straightforward victory for the seven-time Wimbledon champion.

Overnight against Andrey Rublev, he dropped the first set for the 7th time in his last 10 quarter finals, but in a flash turned the match back in his favour and the result was inevitable.

There could be nothing worse as a tennis fan than barracking to see Novak Djokovic lose at Grand Slams in 2023.

The Serbian continues to win – now on twenty-six consecutive occasions at Grand Slams – and one can’t help but feel very few stand a chance of taking the throne.


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