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Djokovic not dominant so far at Wimbledon, but can anyone stop him from four in a row?

Novak Djokovic will face Cameron Norrie in Saturday’s Wimbleson semifinals.Copyright © 2022 CameraSport. All rights reserved.

By Ricky Dimon

Novak Djokovic has been the favorite at Wimbledon ever since the tournament began. That may have changed briefly when he trailed Jannik Sinner two sets to love in the quarterfinals, but the top seed quickly restored order and once again established himself as the man to beat.

Djokovic’s 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory on Wednesday sent him into a semifinal lineup that also includes Friday opponent Cameron Norrie plus–in the bottom half of the draw–Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios.

Let’s take a look at the three challengers.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Cameron Norrie

Why he can beat Djokovic: Norrie is the host nation’s last singles contender at Wimbledon in 2022–and has been for a while. He is going to have huge crowd support, which Djokovic won’t like at all even though the Serb can’t complain since Norrie is British. There isn’t any pressure on the lefty, either, as nobody expects him to win and the country doesn’t need him to win since Andy Murray already ended Great Britain’s Wimbledon drought. Norrie’s game works well on grass and he is extremely consistent, so he may be able to make Djokovic beat himself–as the 20-time major champion did in the second set against Sinner.

Why he can’t beat Djokovic: Norrie has never played in a Grand Slam semifinal, so it’s a big occasion for him despite the pressure of expectations being off. The former TCU standout has never defeated anyone in the top four and he has never beaten anyone in the top 10 at a Grand Slam. Unlike Sinner, Norrie doesn’t have the offensive firepower to take the racket out of Djokovic’s hands.

(Photo by Shi Tang/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal

Why he can beat Djokovic: Nadal is 19-0 at slams this season, with titles in Melbourne and Paris. When healthy, he has quite simply been the best player on tour in 2022–by a country mile, too. The 36-year-old Spaniard has won three of his last four meetings with Djokovic; even though all of those matches came on clay, that should still give him some confidence.

Why he can’t beat Djokovic: “When healthy”…. Well, Nadal isn’t healthy right now. He was dealing with an abdominal injury since the end of the first set against Taylor Fritz on Wednesday and somehow battled to a five-set victory. It’s hard to imagine the situation improving after that effort, and reports are that Nadal has a 7 mm tear. Both Nadal and Djokovic have successfully played through worse abdominal injuries at slams in the past, but beating Kyrgios and Djokovic back-to-back at less than 100 percent would require a Herculean feat. Nadal wouldn’t even be favored to do so even at 100 percent.

(Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Nick Kyrgios

Why he can beat Djokovic: When motivated, Kyrgios is obviously one of the most dangerous players on tour. He is always motivated at Wimbledon, and that certainly won’t change in his first Grand Slam semifinal and with a very realistic chance at his first slam title. Especially with Nadal and then likely Djokovic on the other side of the net, Kyrgios’ desire and intensity should be off the charts. There is nothing he enjoys more than beating Nadal and Djokovic, plus he often boasts about his perfect (2-0) record at Djokovic’s expense that he will be eager to keep intact. The 27-year-old is coming off two consecutive no-nonsense performances; if he can keep his head on straight for two more, the title is possible.

Why he can’t beat Djokovic: There is no reason why Kyrgios can’t beat Djokovic–or anyone else on tour on any given day. That being said, it’s not like he would be the favorite. It would be his first major final, as he had previously never even been to the semis of a slam. Djokovic is way too good to get completely blown off the court by Kyrgios, so there would surely be some adversity at times for the Aussie. Combine that with millions of people watching the match and you pretty much know Kyrgios would be producing all kinds of non-tennis histrionics. That rarely helps his level of play.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.