Novak Djokovic says he has “not much to lose” when he goes for his first Grand Slam title in almost two years against Kevin Anderson in the Wimbledon final.
Djokovic, 31, has won 12 majors but has struggled for form and fitness since claiming the 2016 French Open.
South African Anderson, 32, is bidding to win his first Slam after losing to Rafael Nadal in the 2017 US Open final.
“Considering he’s playing only his second Grand Slam final, obviously he has a lot more to gain,” said Djokovic.
“If I take my last couple years, I don’t have much to lose myself.”
The Serb dominated the men’s game earlier this decade, holding the number one ranking for 223 weeks and completing a career Grand Slam when he claimed the title at Roland Garros two years ago.
But he dropped out of the world’s top 20 earlier this year – for the first time since 2006 – as he returned to action after elbow surgery.
“It makes it even better for me, makes it even more special because I managed to overcome challenges and obstacles, to get myself to the final of a Slam,” he said.
“Obviously if you told me that six months ago, I would take it right away.”
The final begins at 14:00 BST on Sunday and will be live on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 live and the BBC Sport website.
Both men go into the final on the back of gruelling semi-finals during which they spent a combined total of almost 12 hours on court.
Eighth seed Anderson needed six hours and 36 minutes to overcome American ninth seed John Isner in a marathon five-set match which is the second longest Grand Slam match of all-time.That meant Djokovic’s last-four match against long-time rival Rafael Nadal did not start until 20:00 BST on Friday, resuming on Saturday when the Serb completed a five-set win after five hours and 16 minutes on court.
Anderson has the benefit of a day off between the semi-finals and the final, a break Djokovic describes as “necessary”.
Temperatures are expected to reach about 30C at Wimbledon on Sunday.
“I wish I can have a day. But it is what it is. I’ll just have to accept the circumstances and try to recover as best as I can,” said Djokovic.
Speaking after his semi-final, Anderson said it was “not going to be easy” to play again so soon after an exhausting match.
“Obviously I’d like to have been done a little bit earlier in terms of my recovery, playing against one of the greatest players of all time,” he said.
“But when you’re planning, you’re scheduling, you’re second on after 1pm, you don’t think you’re getting on at 8pm. It’s tough on them too.”
Djokovic has won three Wimbledon titles – in 2011, 2014 and 2015 – but came into the Championships as the 12th seed on the back of a frustrating year blighted by an elbow injury.
After reaching the Queen’s final, he worked his way through the draw with increasing assurance and appeared to confirm he is back to his best with victory over Nadal in the last four.
However, he says he is unsure whether he can described as the favourite to beat Anderson.
“I think we’re quite even. He’s definitely playing the tennis of his life,” said Djokovic.
“He’s coming off from two epic marathon five-set wins. I don’t think he has much to lose really. He’s going to come out with big serves and big tennis.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to weather the storm. We want this match, both of us.”
This is the first time in the Open era the Wimbledon men’s singles final has been contested by two players aged 30 or over
Anderson is looking to become the first player to win the Wimbledon title on his debut in the final since Djokovic won his first crown in 2011
He is bidding to become the first South African man to win the SW19 title
At 32 years 58 days, Anderson is bidding to become the second-oldest first-time Grand Slam champion in the Open era
Anderson will rise to a career-high ranking of fourth if he wins. By reaching the final, he has already ensured he will break into the world’s top five for the first time in his career
Djokovic will rise to 11th – his highest ranking since November last year – by reaching the final. He will move up to 10th if he wins
Djokovic is bidding to win his 13th Grand Slam title and claim sole ownership of fourth place on the all-time list for most Grand Slam men’s singles titles behind Roger Federer (20), Rafael Nadal (17) and Pete Sampras (14)
At 21st, Djokovic is bidding to become the lowest-ranked man to win the Wimbledon title since Goran Ivanisevic in 2001