Novak set to resume normal service

Novak Djokovic, who lost to Stanislas Wawrinka in the recent French Open final, has kept a low profile since that setback. However, fellow players and pundits expect the combative Serb to bounce back and resolutely slam away any attempts to wrest the
Novak Djokovic, who lost to Stanislas Wawrinka in the recent French Open final, has kept a low profile since that setback. However, fellow players and pundits expect the combative Serb to bounce back and resolutely slam away any attempts to wrest the Wimbledon crown from him.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON - Three weeks after his heart-breaking French Open final defeat, Novak Djokovic resurfaces to defend his Wimbledon title and prove that his Paris scars have healed.

Tennis' world No. 1 has stayed out of the spotlight since his Roland Garros upset by Stanislas Wawrinka ended his latest bid to complete the career Grand Slam.

Even his usually prolific social media activities have been reduced to scraps with a mere half-dozen postings on Twitter, only one of which pictured him working out on a grass court.

Despite his recent low profile, his rivals have no doubt that the Serb will be fired up to defend his Wimbledon crown just as he was in 2011 when he captured his maiden title in London.

This year's tournament starts on Monday.

"I'm sure after losing the French Open final, he wants more, he wants to come back and win the next big one," said Wawrinka.

Seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer, defeated by Djokovic in the 2014 final, also sees the Serb as favourite.

"He is the champion, the world No. 1 and plays well on grass," said the Swiss.

Djokovic's loss to Wawrinka in Paris was just his third in 44 matches this year.

With the Australian Open title already under his belt, the shattering loss also ended his chances of going on to become just the third man in history - and first since 1969 - to clinch a calendar Grand Slam.

Such Paris disappointments have previously worked in his favour. His 2011 semi-final loss to Federer at Roland Garros ended a 41-match win streak that year.

However, just four weeks later, he defeated Rafael Nadal to secure a first Wimbledon title and then went on to his maiden US Open triumph.

Djokovic is also the most consistent of the top players at the Grand Slams - the last time he failed to make at least the quarter-finals was at Roland Garros in 2009.

But he argues that his record sometimes works against him.

"I think people tend to create more of a story where it's just me," he said.

World No. 2 Federer, who won the last of his 17 Grand Slams at Wimbledon in 2012, will be seeded to meet Djokovic in the July 12 final.

The Swiss will be 34 in August - the oldest man to win Wimbledon in the modern era was Arthur Ashe, who was 31 years and 11 months when he triumphed in 1975.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2015, with the headline 'Novak set to resume normal service'. Print Edition | Subscribe