Novak Djokovic is wary as a growing band of tennis supercoaches queue up to try to thwart the Serb’s continuing quest for grand slam immortality and a fourth Wimbledon crown.
Already the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four major trophies, Djokovic has arrived at the All England Club chasing yet more milestones including the third leg of a fabled calendar-year grand slam sweep.
To remain on track, the world No.1 must become the first man since Roger Federer a decade ago to snare a hat-trick of Wimbledon titles and the first since American Don Budge 78 years ago to win five majors in a row.
The 29-year-old is promising no let-up after finally completing his grand slam set with victory over Andy Murray in this month’s French Open final.
“There is a great sense of relief, no doubt about it,” Djokovic said on the eve of Friday’s Wimbledon draw in London.
“But one thing we all learn in tennis is to reset a day or week later. That’s the kind of sport we’re in.
“We don’t have too much time to reflect on what we have achieved.
“Of course I’m very proud and very thrilled to be able to hold all four grand slam titles at the same time. It’s a remarkable achievement for my team and I.
“But we’re moving on and it’s back on grass starting from scratch now.”
Having denied Federer – and the coaching influence of the Swiss’s key ally Stefan Edberg – in the past two finals on London’s hallowed grass courts, Djokovic faces new threats in 2016 from the latest addition of celebrity mentors hitting the tour.
Former semi-finalist Milos Raonic reached the final at Queen’s in the Canadian’s first event since hiring John McEnroe to bring some finesse behind his blazing serve.
Fellow former champion Lleyton Hewitt has his hands full assisting Australia’s two big hopes Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic as well as his other Davis Cup charge Sam Groth.
Wimbledon wildcard winner Goran Ivanisevic is hoping to help Marin Cilic add the grasscourt slam to his 2014 US Open trophy, two-time French Open champion Sergi Bruguera has also guided Richard Gasquet back into the top 10 and Michael Chang has Kei Nishikori poised for a major breakthrough.
And then there is Djokovic’s biggest concern: Ivan Lendl, who is back in Murray’s box vowing to end the all-conquering Serb’s grand slam domination.
It was Lendl who plotted the Scot’s London Olympic triumph at the All England Club before also masterminding Murray’s victory over Djokovic in the 2012 US Open final and 2013 Wimbledon decider.
Little wonder Djokovic is not surprised Murray has again turned to Lendl after losing two of his past 15 matches with the world No.1 since the pair split in March, 2014.
“When Ivan was his coach before Andy won a couple of grand slams and an Olympic gold medal, some of the best results of his career,” Djokovic noted.
“So it was a logical move for him to take and they’re a good team so it’s going to be interesting.”
The six-time Australian Open champion welcomes the influx of tennis greats to the coaching scene.
“Ivan is one of the legends of our sport and of course he’s been a great rival of my coach, Boris (Becker),” he said.
“I was joking with my team that they’ve got to extend the locker room for the legends.
“Having all this rivalry in the locker rooms and in the coaching side is pretty good for our sport. It attracts a lot of attention.”
TENNIS STARS AND THEIR SUPERCOACHES (PREFIX DENOTES PLAYER’S RANKING)
1.Novak Djokovic – Boris Becker, former world No.1 and six-time grand slam champion
2.Andy Murray – Ivan Lendl, former world No.1 and eight-time major winner
3.Roger Federer – Ivan Ljubicic, former world No.3 and French Open semi-finalist
5.Stan Wawrinka – Magnus Norman, former world No.2 and French Open finalist
6.Kei Nishikori – Michael Chang, French Open champion and world No.2
7.Milos Raonic – John McEnroe, former world No.1 and seven-time major winner
10.Richard Gasquet – Sergi Bruguera, dual French Open champion and former world No.3
13.Marin Cilic – Goran Ivanisevic, former Wimbledon champion and world No.2
18.Nick Kyrgios – *Lleyton Hewitt, former world No.1 and two-time grand slam champion
*Hewitt is assisting Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic in an unofficial capacity as Australian Davis Cup captain.