THE CYBORG MACHINE THAT IS NOVAK DJOKOVIC IS MALFUNCTIONING

fowinIt was the 5th June 2016 – Roland Garros, Paris when Novak Djokovic completed his career Grand Slam with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Andy Murray. His 12th top tier title, but the one he needed to complete the set, he was a man on that day who had reached the top of another mountain with the plan to scale even further heights. This crowned off an amazing start to the year. He was already the undisputed number one tennis rgwinplayer in the world and his record in the nine tournaments he had played including, the French Open was as follows:- W, W, QF, W, W,2R, W, RU, W – six titles and with more than half the season to come it was expected that the Serbian tennis ace would go on and win further competitions, especially the Grand Slams to try and close in on Roger Federer’s record of 17.

A WIMBY SHOCKER

querdjokoHe had a full three week break before Wimbledon, something he had done the previous year before winning at SW19 so a deep run in tournament was expected. However he was bested in the third round by Sam Querrey, who was no doubt outstanding, but Djokovic didn’t look or play like himself at all. Testament to this was when he had the opportunity to get back on level terms at 2 sets all (he had been 2 sets down) he was broken when serving for the 4th set and lost the match on the tie-break. A devastating loss at the time, especially as he was on for the calendar year Grand Slam, but most people just put it down to the fact that winning the French Open was such a target, he was spent, especially emotionally at Wimbledon and would be back rested and recuperated for the rest of the season, especially with another key goal being Olympic gold as well as the US Open.

RETURN FOR MORE GLORY?

To be fair when he did return in the Rogers Cup in Toronto, despite being understandably candjokorusty he won the tournament to set him nicely for the Olympics in Rio. However a 1st round defeat to Juan Martin del Potro had him in tears. He then stated that personal problems were the reason behind his summer slump pre the US Open, though he did tout a left wrist injury as the reason he missed the warm up tournament in Cincinnati, so rio-olympicssome mixed messages there. Djokovic did battle his way to the final at Flushing Meadow but had no answer to a hot Stan Wawrinka in the final. Following this he has had a bit of an injury break and only returned in the last week at the Shanghai Masters (he pulled out of the previous weeks China Open due to injury) and again he didn’t look right on court, struggling in his quarter final against Mikhail Zverev and then falling to Roberto Bautisa Agut in the semi finals in a very strange and angry performance in which he was broken in his last three service games.

STARTLING DECLINE

So a brilliant start to the year is ending in a damp squib, shown by his record in tournaments since Roland Garros – 3R, W, 1R, RU, SF – when compared to how atp-tour-finals-londonhis year began. Another issue is the fact that Andy Murray is chasing him down in the rankings, winning his last two tournaments, including Shanghai. It has been a decent 12 months for Djokovic overall but when you look at the second half of the year, the Serb will know full well he needs to do better. He will now head to Paris for the Masters event  at the end of the month and then the ATP finals in London, two tournaments he won in 2015. A run to at least the final in both is needed or 2017 will start under a cloud no doubt, with the threat of his cloak of invincibility, which has already lost some lustre and veneer, being tossed away for some time. The malfunction needs to be fixed and fast.

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