Novak Djokovic towers above even Andy Murray and Roger Federer as Wimbledon begins but the man chasing a fifth successive grand slam title insists his best days could be still to come.
The world No 1 won a staggering 11 titles last year and already has six in 2016, including the Australian Open and a first French Open which sealed a sweep of the four majors he began by triumphing at Wimbledon 12 months ago.
His capture of the Coupe des Mousquetaires at Roland Garros positions Djokovic emphatically as the dominant player on the planet, streets ahead in the world rankings.
It also means he is a red-hot favourite heading into the fortnight in London, although the 29-year-old Serbian is not easily satisfied.
“I can certainly say that I’ve been working hard to get that consistency for myself throughout the years on the tour, on all different kinds of surfaces, trying to better my game as my career went on,” he said yesterday.
“Obviously I’m at the peak of my career at the moment. It hopefully can still keep going.
“I see still lots of room for improvement, things that I can work on. That’s something that encourages me. That’s something that keeps me grounded in a way, gives me more reason to practise.”
Britain’s James Ward, also 29, presents Djokovic with his first-round Wimbledon test today, when the pair open up play on Centre Court at 1pm.
World No 177 Ward will know the size of the task: while Ward’s career earnings have just crept past the million-dollar mark, Djokovic has recently gone beyond 100 million US dollars.
And Djokovic is determined to impose himself against the home player from the first ball.
“Every time you face an opponent for the first time, it’s always important to start off well and not allow them to take his chances,” said Djokovic. “It’s going to be the first match on the untouched grass. That’s probably one of the most special tennis matches that you get to experience as a player.”