Jacob Fearnley ready to take on Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon

Jacob Fearnley ready to take on Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon

By James Toney at Wimbledon

Jacob Fearnley hopes to complete a remarkable journey from Roger Federer's hitting partner to Novak Djokovic's conqueror.

But the 22-year-old Scot admits he is pinching himself after an improbable few weeks that has left his head in a spin and his rivals scratching theirs.

First he claimed his biggest tournament win at the LTA's Rothesay Open Nottingham and then he takes down Spain's Alejandro Moro Canas in his first ever Grand Slam match, converting his sixth match point chance for a straight sets 7-5 6-4 7-6 win.

Now he will face the seven-time champion Djokovic - likely on Centre Court - for a place in the third round.

Not bad for a player ranked 525th in the world at the start of last month, whose chances of playing at the All England Club this year looked unlikely a month ago.

"I'm feeling great and just to play on these courts was a great feeling and to get a win was really special," said Fearnley.

"It's a great prize to be playing Novak, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't watching the score of his match on Centre Court and perhaps it got in my head a little bit.

"It's going to be intimidating but to share the court with a player like that would be really special.

It's a bit of a crazy feeling right now, it's all totally unexpected but I've had a great month, winning the national college title, then Nottingham and now this. It's been some month."

A talented youngster, Fearnley was viewed as a player on the fast-track, beating Grand Slam champions Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner as a junior, while his previous All England Club experience was hitting balls with Federer as a teen.

His decision to focus on a US college career meant he dropped off the radar, until his run through qualifying and the main draw to win the Rothesay Open, earning his wildcard place in the first round.

Djokovic is famously fastidious with his preparation and he will now be combing YouTube for videos of the Scot's time at the Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, where he helped his team win the prestigious NCAA title.

"I've never seen him hit, I really don't know anything about him so I've got a couple of days to do my homework," he said.

"I'll have a proper look at his first round match and see what I can learn and what I'm up against. He is going to have the crowd with him and nothing to lose, you never like to play a British player at Wimbledon."

Knowledge of Novak is not an issue Fearnley has, so many of his matches at the All England Club are burned into the memory

"Not many people have the answer to beating Novak, I've watched so many videos of him and there are not many flaws in his game, I'm just going to try and enjoy it," he added.

Fearnley's story is just what British Tennis needs, his mother, Samantha, worked extra early morning shifts in the NHS to give him the coaching opportunities as he grew up. It's a story of hard work and perseverance, which on Tuesday paid spectacular dividends.

However, it was a scholarship in Texas that changed everything and gave Fearnley the space to grow under coach Devin Bowen, who also looked after the early career of fellow Brit Cameron Norrie.

"It took him all five years to mature, and he's still 22 years old," said Bowen.

"But he's definitely one of those players that if he had tried to go play at 18 or 19, you'd be throwing him to the wolves, and I think that’s the case with a lot of players.

"We had the time to rebuild his serve completely and it's probably his best shot right now."

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