No. 2: I know that they want to get a scalp, they want to win… but it ain’t happening, still.

A consummate diplomat though he may be, Novak Djokovic is at his best when he bosses up to those coming for his crown.

The 36-year-old was building towards another legendary season at the 2023 Wimbledon Championships—one in which he had already surpassed Rafael Nadal in the Grand Slam race by winning both the Australian Open and Roland Garros—when he was asked to assess the challenge posed by the likes of Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz, both of who are over a decade younger than the ageless Serbian star.

“I mean, I don't want to sound arrogant, but of course I would consider myself favorite,” the seven-time Wimbledon winner said in his post-match presser.


“Judging with the results I had in my career here, [the] previous four occasions of Wimbledon that I won, and reaching another semifinal, so I do consider myself favorite, yes.”

Djokovic had spoken more broadly on court after edging into the semifinals over another relative youngster in Andrey Rublev, but foreshadowed the sauce with a zinger that had Centre Court in stitches.

“The pressure is paramount, every single time I come out on the court, particularly here on Centre Court at Wimbledon,” he mused. “But at the same time it awakens the most beautiful emotions in me and it motivates me beyond what I’ve ever dreamed of, and it inspires me to play my best tennis.

“I know that they want to get a scalp, they want to win… but it ain’t happening, still.”

Ironically, it did happen at Wimbledon: Alcaraz got the better of Djokovic in a thrilling five-set final, but though the No. 1 lost the battle, he would win the war in 2023, going all but undefeated after leaving the All England Club with a 23-2 record that included victories in Cincinnati, the US Open and Paris.


He ended the season with a seventh win at the ATP Finals, where he earned wins over both Alcaraz and Sinner en route,

“I think the experience that I have now playing for so many years helps me deal with my nerves, deal with expectations, but there is always very high expectations beginning with myself and of course now here the team and the nation,” he added at the Davis Cup Finals.

“I know that pretty much every single player that steps out on the court with me wants to get a scalp. You know, they want to win, they want to play their best tennis. But, you know, it's a good problem to have, to be honest. You know, I don't complain. You know, I'm very proud of the career that I had and the situation and the position that I'm in.”

From success to swagger, all signs point to more of the same for Djokovic in 2024.