Is Novak Djokovic too old to win Wimbledon again? Players reach their peak at the age of 24

The moment that tennis fans have been waiting for is almost here, with the Wimbledon Championships starting on Monday.

Hundreds of thousands of tennis fans will flock to London’s SW19 to see if Novak Djokovic can successfully defend his gentlemen’s singles title for the fourth year in a row.

At 35, Djokovic is by no means one of the youngest tennis players on the field.

In fact, the average age of Wimbledon participants in 2021 was only 28 years and 102 days – and it was the second highest since the Open era began in 1968.

So does the Wimbledon champion have what it takes to hold on to his title? Here, MailOnline dives into science.

Hundreds of thousands of tennis fans will flock to London's SW19 to see if Novak Djokovic can successfully defend his gentlemen's single title for the fourth year in a row

Hundreds of thousands of tennis fans will flock to London’s SW19 to see if Novak Djokovic can successfully defend his gentlemen’s single title for the fourth year in a row

Djokovic could have the psychological benefit

Although Djokovic may be past his physical peak, his experience may benefit him.

Djokovic is known for being one of the most mentally tough athletes in the world, which can be linked to his many years of experience.

After Djokovic won the Australian Open, despite having an injury last year, his coach, coach Goran Ivanisevic, said: ‘Novak is just stronger than everyone else and people have a hard time admitting it.

“His mind is so strong he believes in his mental exercises, and with his relaxation methods he was able to minimize the pain as much as it was physically possible, even with the help of painkillers.”

After dominating the major tournaments for the past 10 years or so, Djokovic is known as one of the ‘big three’ along with Roger Federer, 40, and Rafa Nadal, 36.

While Djokovic is the youngest, he has previously joked that the three are now ‘old boys’ on the tennis court.

Last year at the Rome Masters, Djokovic said: ‘Rafa and I had a little laugh today in the locker room after I won against Tsitsipas.

‘We joked a bit that the old people still do not give up. I saw he said somewhere a few days ago that Roger, him and I are old, but I disagree with him. I think we’re showing something different, fresh energy. ‘

So is 35 too old to win at Wimbledon?

Back in 1988, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh set out to understand the highest age of achievement for athletes across different sports.

Their results suggested that while golfers top at around 31 and professional baseball players at 28, tennis players reach their highest performance levels at the age of only 24.

That study, however, was more than 30 years ago, and things have changed markedly since then.

Recently, in 2018, a survey conducted by tennishead found that the average age of the world’s 100 best tennis players has increased significantly in the last 10 years.

Although Djokovic may be past his physical peak, his experience may benefit him.  Pictured: Djokovic kisses the winner's trophy at Wimbledon 2021

Although Djokovic may be past his physical peak, his experience may benefit him. Pictured: Djokovic kisses the winner’s trophy at Wimbledon 2021

Novak Djokovic: The key statistics

Country: Serbia

Age: 35

Birth date: May 22, 1987

Height: 6ft 2in

Weight: 170 lbs

Present singles rank: 3

Matches won: 1.005

Matches lost: 204

“30 years ago, the average age of the world’s 100 best men and women was 23.74 years and 22.56 years, respectively,” the tennis head explained.

‘By the end of last year, these figures had risen to 28.26 and 25.8 respectively.

“In the last 10 years alone, the average age has increased by 2.67 years among men and by 2.14 years among women.”

Although the reason for this extended career is still unclear, the tennis head suggests that a number of factors may be at stake.

“Improved fitness regimes and advances in science and nutrition, combined with increases in prize money that have encouraged players to continue competing, have fueled a remarkable increase in the number of older players, especially among men,” it added. .

Although Djokovic may be past his physical peak, his experience may benefit him.

Djokovic is known for being one of the most mentally tough athletes in the world, which can be linked to his many years of experience.

After Djokovic won the Australian Open, despite having an injury last year, his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, said: ‘Novak is just stronger than everyone else and people have a hard time admitting it.

“His mind is so strong he believes in his mental exercises, and with his relaxation methods he was able to minimize the pain as much as it was physically possible, even with the help of painkillers.”

After dominating the major tournaments for the last 10 years or so, Djokovic is known as one of the 'big three' along with Roger Federer, 40 (left), and Rafa Nadal, 36 (right).

After dominating the major tournaments for the last 10 years or so, Djokovic is known as one of the ‘big three’ along with Roger Federer, 40 (left), and Rafa Nadal, 36 (right).

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a popular form of meditation where you focus on being intensely aware of what you are sensing and feeling in the moment.

The exercise involves breathing methods, guided imagery and other exercises to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.

It is often touted as a universal tool to boost mental well-being by reducing stress, anxiety and depression.

Djokovic has previously talked about his use of mindfulness, which he claims is as important as training the physical body.

“I strongly believe in the power of the mind,” he said in 2015, on the eve of his campaign for a third title at the Monte-Carlo Country Club.

‘If we all trained our minds as much as we train our muscles and physical body, I think we would achieve and maximize our potential.

“We do not know how much we can really achieve until we have this kind of mindset of always wanting to evolve and improve.”

Despite Djokovic’s mental strength, future tennis players now receive extensive psychological training from a young age.

And experts have warned that these younger players ‘will not be intimidated’ by the Serb anymore, leaving him ‘vulnerable’.

Eurosport’s Mats Wilander said: ‘I think the biggest difference is the guys coming from behind or surrounding Novak, they now have confidence that they can hit Novak on any surface on any given day.

‘I think they are not scared anymore unless you get to a fourth or fifth set in a Grand Slam.

“But even then, I feel like they’ve seen Novak have the best year.”

Overall, the results suggest that there is everything to play for at Wimbledon this year – keep an eye on this space.

Leave a Comment