Novak Djokovic is acutely aware that the draw he was given for The Championships 2013 is one he should be thankful for: the 2011 champion is without Andy Murray, Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal in his half of the draw, causing some to call his path to the Wimbledon final a "dream draw" from the tennis gods.
"Well, you know, draw is something that you cannot affect," the world No.1 said on Saturday. "So I honestly wasn't thinking about it too much because it's a matter of luck and it's a matter of a coin toss, as well. It is what it is now."
But a closer examination of the Serbian's draw round-for-round shows that the 26-year-old doesn't have it as easy as some might think, including a first-round bout with Florian Mayer, the German he met here a year ago in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.
"He's a tricky player," Djokovic said of the 33th-ranked German. "He has a bit unorthodox game. He can be very dangerous on this surface. He loves playing on grass. If you look at his career, he's made his best results, I think, on grass. Strong backhand. He's tall. He can serve well."
In fact, Mayer is the first player in the draw not to be seeded, meaning by ranking alone he's the most dangerous of floaters.
Djokovic would like to float his way to a seventh major title during this fortnight, but would have to contend with one of his foes come the final should it shake out that way.
He's slated to meet No.28 seed Jeremy Chardy in the third round, and could take on Tommy Haas, another German, in the fourth round. The 35-year-old Haas is seeded 13th and owns a 3-5 career record against Djokovic. Haas stunned Djokovic on the quick courts of Miami earlier this year, though Djokovic exacted revenge on the former world No.2 in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros.
It was there that Djokovic played his epic semi-final against Nadal, succumbing 9-7 in the fifth set after leading by a break late in the match.
"I thought I had a great tournament. I gave my best," said Djokovic about Paris, which remains the one major he has yet to claim. "It was a thrilling match to be a part of with Nadal in semi-finals. But, as I said, you know, I needed that few days just to, you know, relax, let the stress go and everything that I've been through. You know, kind of get another motivation to prepare well for this tournament."
The 2012 semi-finalist lost to Federer in four sets here a year ago, but owns a 33-5 record this year that includes his third straight Australian Open. He's 32-7 in eight Wimbledon appearances. But how does his grass-court game feel sans a warm-up tournament this time around?
"It's not the first time that I find myself in the situation where I don't have any warm-up grass court tournaments," Djokovic said. "I need to prioritise and rest and recovery rather than just going for the matches on the grass, which is the fastest surface in our sport. I've done it before and I've managed. But adapting from the slowest to the fastest surface in only a few days is really a short time, you know. But it's been like that for a while now."
20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...
20:03"I already have seven. It's not like I need another one. But it would have been awfully nice to have it. I think that's what the feeling was of the people, and I felt that... I know they love tennis. They love tennis after we're all gone."View all