Fearnley targets Djokovic meeting fresh from college

Jacob Fearnley
Jacob Fearnley won his maiden ATP Challenger title at the Nottingham Open [Getty Images]

Fresh out of college and "just looking to get some matches on the grass", Jacob Fearnley suddenly finds himself within one game of facing seven-time champion Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon.

The 22-year-old Scot earned his wildcard for the All England Club after winning his first ATP Challenger singles title earlier this month at the Nottingham Open - despite having to qualify.

"It has opened a lot of doors for me and I'm supremely grateful," Edinburgh-born Fearnley told BBC Sport.

"As soon as I finished the tournament, I had a schedule planned for the rest of the summer and had to call my coach and basically revamp that and plan to play different tournaments after Wimbledon."

Fearnley, who faces Spanish qualifier Alejandro Moro Canas in Wimbledon's first round on Tuesday, has followed the same path as current British number two Cameron Norrie in graduating from college tennis at Texas Christian University.

On his return to the scene of his maiden doubles title a year earlier, he won seven straight matches, including one against world 104 Juncheng Shang, before his 4-6 6-4 6-3 defeat of 245th-ranked Charles Broom in the all-British final at Nottingham.

"I finished school about 26 May with TCU," he explained. "We won the national title, beating Texas in the final.

"I had a good practice week at the NTC (National Tennis Centre) and then straight to Nottingham to play first-round qualifying. I was just looking to get some matches on the grass and hopefully play some of the top players to get a feeling of their level and how I matched up against them.

"I managed to get more confidence and managed to come out with some good wins. Playing Charles Broom in the final... I have played him so many times before so I kind of knew I had a chance and luckily came out on top."

Fearnley is only the fourth Briton to lift the Nottingham trophy, following in the footsteps of Greg Rusedski, Dan Evans and 2023 winner Andy Murray.

It also instantly halved his world ranking from 525 to 271 and earned him a wildcard for the Eastbourne International.

There, he lost in his ATP tour debut 6-4 7-6 to 139th-ranked Billy Harris, but his fellow Briton would go on to cement his own recent fine form by reaching the semi-finals.

Now, fellow Wimbledon debutant Canas, currently ranked 189, stands between Fearnley and a second-round meeting with Djokovic, presuming the 37-year-old Serb overcomes his recent injury problem and beats Czech qualifier Vit Kopriva.

Fearnley already has experience of victory as a Wimbledon wildcard, having reached the second round of the doubles with compatriot Johannus Monday a year ago.

And he realises he has a great opportunity to progress to a potentially career-defining meeting with the second seed in the same half of the singles draw as fellow Scots Norrie and Murray.

"When I saw that, I was obviously excited to play firstly whoever I got, but obviously it is a good draw to get first round and I definitely have a chance," Fearnley said.