Wimbledon 2021 men's preview: Novak Djokovic has Golden Slam in sight

Wimbledon has returned after two years to find the men's field looking a little different than it did back in 2019, but not totally.

Here's an incredible stat that will give you a good idea of where men's tennis is right now: since the beginning of 2004, a span of 69 Slams, only seven men not named Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, or Rafael Nadal have won Grand Slams. Three of those seven are no longer playing professional tennis, and just one is seeded in the top 32 at Wimbledon — and he's not playing due to injury.

But the passing of time has taken its toll. After a tough semifinal loss at the French Open, Nadal won't play at Wimbledon so he can focus on the Olympics and the US Open. Federer is continuing to have knee issues and withdrew from the French Open after reaching the Round of 16. Only Djokovic stands unscathed, ready to make a run and turn the Big Three into the Big One.

The passing of time has also allowed other players to get closer and closer to breaking up the trifecta's iron grip on the Slams. For all of Djokovic's dominance, he came very close to losing in the French Open final. Maybe someone will be able to take it all the way this time.

Wimbledon seeds 1-5

Novak Djokovic (1)

After his roaring comeback in the French Open final, Djokovic is heavily favored to win Wimbledon. He's the defending champion and his history there is exceptional, with five total wins. On top of that, he's playing some of the best tennis we've ever seen. He was masterful at Roland-Garros, beating Rafael Nadal, one of the best clay court players of all time, in the semifinals.

CALVIA, SPAIN - JUNE 17: Novak Djokovic of Serbia in a practice session ahead of the Mallorca Championships 2021 at Country Club de Santa Ponça on June 17, 2021 in Calvia, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic has a chance to win the elusive Golden Slam. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

With wins at the Australian and French Opens, Djokovic is closer to winning the Golden Slam — all four majors in one calendar year — than he's been since 2016. Plus, one more Grand Slam win would be his 20th, which would tie him with his Big Three compatriots for the most all time. With Nadal sitting this one out and Federer coming back from injury, Wimbledon is his to lose.

Daniil Medvedev (2)

Medvedev has had a great 2021 so far, making the final at the Australian Open and the quarterfinals at Roland-Garros, his best finishes at both tournaments. He jumped into grass court preparation with gusto, but his first-round exit at the Halle Open definitely put his grass court skills into question. But Medvedev has rebounded well, going deep at the Mallorca Open. That ends just days before Wimbledon starts, so he'll be primed and ready for grass court action.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (3)

Tsitsipas is the man who got a two-set lead on Djokovic in the French Open final ... only to lose the next three sets. He said a few days later that that he found out his grandmother had died just five minutes before the match began, which certainly could have played a role in that.

PARIS, FRANCE June 13.   Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in reacts during his match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia on Court Philippe-Chatrier during the Men's Singles Final at the 2021 French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on June 13th 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Stefanos Tsitsipas took Novak Djokovic to the brink of elimination at the French Open. Can he do it again at Wimbledon? (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Regardless, we know that Tsitsipas has the goods to at least put Djokovic on his heels. He doesn't have the best record on grass, but he's feeling extremely confident after his impressive showing at Roland-Garros.

Dominic Thiem (4)

Thiem, who won the 2020 US Open, is the only non-Big Three player to win a major since the end of the 2016 season. Unfortunately, he recently suffered a wrist injury that will keep him out for five weeks, so he won't be playing at Wimbledon.

Alexander Zverev (5)

Zverev won the Madrid Open in early May, and his best finishes at three of the four Grand Slams have come in the last year. In fact, Wimbledon is the only Slam in which he hasn't made a big stride forward. His best showing was a fourth-round finish in 2017, and at the last Wimbledon (which was played in 2019), he was upset in the first round. But with his constant improvements, Zverev could be ready achieve a new personal best at Wimbledon.

Other contenders

HALLE, GERMANY - JUNE 14: Roger Federer of Switzerland celebfrates after winning his match against Ilya Ivashka of Belarus during day 3 of the Noventi Open at OWL-Arena on June 14, 2021 in Halle, Germany. (Photo by Thomas F. Starke/Getty Images)
Does Roger Federer have one last Grand Slam run left? (Photo by Thomas F. Starke/Getty Images)

Roger Federer (7)

It seems like we've come to the final stages of Federer's storied career. He's 39 and spent most of 2020 recovering from a knee injury that required surgery. He hasn't won a major since early 2018, but Wimbledon is where he shines. He's won eight titles at the All-England Club, more than anyone in history. He's one of the greatest tennis players to ever live, and just like Serena Williams, seeing him win one more major would put a topper on his unparalleled career. The question is whether he has one more major run left in him.

Matteo Berrettini (8)

No one should sleep on Berrettini. He had his best Grand Slam result at the French Open (eventually losing to Djokovic in the quarterfinals), and on June 20 won the Queen's Club Championships. It's the biggest win of his career so far, and on a grass court to boot. That's a helluva warmup for Wimbledon.

Reilly Opelka (28) and John Isner (29)

As the only Americans seeded in the top 30, Opelka and Isner represent the best of what US men's tennis has to offer right now. That they're pretty far down the list tells you most of what you need to know, but not everything. Isner is 36, closer to the end of his career than the beginning, and he recently fell out of the ATP Top 30 for the first time in a decade. Opelka is 23 and on the rise, continuing to make strides forward in. nearly every tournament he plays. America hasn't had a Grand Slam champion since 2003, when Andre Agassi won the Australian Open and Andy Roddick won the US Open. It doesn't look like that dry spell will end this time, but it's worth keeping an eye on Opelka to see what he can do.

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