Jannik Sinner is set to start Wimbledon with a slight advantage over defending champion Carlos Alcaraz in the race to be crowned 2024 winner.

That is the view of former Wimbledon runner-up Mark Philippoussis, who says the two young stars deserve to be seen as clear frontrunners, particularly with doubts over Novak Djokovic's fitness.

Sinner is the world number one and earned his first grand slam title at the Australian Open this year, while Alcaraz comes into the tournament on a high after claiming his third major at the French Open.

Alcaraz's grand slam titles have come on three different surfaces, but Philippoussis – who lost the 2003 final at Wimbledon to Roger Federer – feels Sinner, who will start his campaign against Yannick Hanfmann, still deserves to start as the marginal favourite.

With the Italian being top seed, following on from Alcaraz having that status last year, this is the first time players aged under 23 have held the top seed in consecutive editions of the men’s singles at Wimbledon since Lleyton Hewitt (2003) and Federer (2004).

"In my eyes, Sinner is the favourite," Philippoussis said to Stats Perform at the Giorgio Armani Tennis Classic at the Hurlingham Club.

"I'm not going to say he is a clear favourite, but he definitely is the favourite. And then I'd say Alcaraz.

"For me, there's a question mark around Djokovic. I'm very surprised to see him here. Apparently he's supposed to be playing a match [on Friday], which is a great idea for him. I think he is definitely going to get a gauge of where he is physically.

"But Sinner and then Alcaraz, like I said, they are the favourites."

With eight-time Wimbledon champion Federer retired and Djokovic now 37 as the likes of Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray near the end of their careers, Philippoussis is relieved to see tennis in safe hands with Sinner and Alcaraz, whose rivalry looks likely to dominate the sport for the rest of the decade.

The Australian added: "You have got Alcaraz and Sinner and we are lucky to have them.

"They are incredible for the game, not just because they are the champions they are at such a young age and what they bring to the table as far as their professionalism, but it is also the ambassadors they are for the sport.

"I see the way they are around kids, around fans – they are incredible. They give their time. They make sure they wait around after practice no matter how tired they are. They literally sign as many as they can, if not everyone.

"They are incredible ambassadors for the game. We were worried, especially with Federer and Nadal, Federer gone, Nadal almost there. Who's going to be taking over?

"But I think we are in very, very good hands and they are amazing to have for the game and I'm excited.

"Dominating is a tough thing, there are going to be other guys stepping up as well, but they are the ones who will be spearheading the game in years to come."

Alcaraz, who was drawn against Mark Lajal in round one, could become the youngest player in the Open Era to win at Roland Garros and Wimbledon in a calendar year, but there is always the prospect of a surprise at Wimbledon.

Asked for some of the threats to upset the leading players and go all the way at Wimbledon, Philippoussis named Grigor Dimitrov and Matteo Berrettini.

Dimitrov reached the last eight at the French Open this month – his first major quarter-final since 2021 – while Berrettini recently made the Stuttgart Open final, three years on from reaching the Wimbledon final, which he lost in four sets to Djokovic.

"Dark horses for me, I'm going to say Dimitrov," added Philippoussis, with the Bulgarian 10th seed set to take on Dusan Lajovic in the first round.

"He has been impressing me. He is hitting the ball as well as I have seen for a very long time.

"His hands and his slice backhand, the way he chips the ball back and moves on the grass and his volleys, he is definitely someone that I wouldn't want to see in my part of the draw.

"And I'm going to also say Berrettini. He lost just over a week ago in the last grass court tournament before Halle in the finals.

"He is healthy now and he has got a huge game. He lost in the finals at Wimbledon years ago and he is a dark horse as well."

Among players with 10 or more matches on grass since 2020, Berrettini (84.8%) is one of only three to hold a match win percentage above 80, with the other two being last year's finalists Djokovic (95.2%) and Alcaraz (85%).