Novak Djokovic was knocked out in the round of 64 by qualifier Taro Daniel. After the defeat, Djokovic admitted that he completely lost his rhythm on court and the match felt like his first match on tour.
“Very weird. I mean, I just completely lost rhythm, everything. I just struggled also a little bit with the health the last couple of weeks. I was grateful to be out on the court after surgery that quickly. Obviously having only played a couple of matches in nine months, you’re still, in a way, battling inside of your mind whether you’re fit or not. And even though you don’t have pain, you’re still thinking about it, because it’s been something that I have been feeling and dragging for over two years,” Djokovic said after the match.
Thankfully for Djokovic, none other than Roger Federer thinks he’s going to bounce back stronger and this is far from the end for the Serb. “When you go away from the game for over a two-month period, it starts feeling a little bit that way. When you do come back from injury or when you haven’t played in a long time, it just takes extra effort. It is still early stages for Novak coming back and the first one after surgery. He’s only going to get better from here,” Federer said.
Obviously, it’s a long steep road up the hills for Djokovic and he’ll do well to replicate Federer’s insane comeback story. Here are some lessons he can take from him.
Already Djokovic has cemented his place as one of the greats of the game. He doesn’t need to psych himself out or get too worried about making it back to the top. Federer said that he didn’t expect to be playing as well as he did, and considered every win like a bonus. Djokovic should have the same attitude, and just enjoy his game.
Change his game
Sometimes, you stagnate if you keep playing the same way. So Djokovic, along with his coaching staff, should consider ways in which he should change up his game just like Federer did after his comeback (the SABR being one such trick).
Choose lesser tournaments
Last year, Federer decided to skip the clay season entirely. That was because he decided to choose his tournaments carefully and shift his focus from being No. 1 to winning titles. He did win titles and become the World No. 1 but that wasn’t the plan. Djokovic too, should follow suit and play fewer tournaments so that his elbow injury isn’t aggravated again.
Find the desire to win
Djokovic doesn’t have much left to achieve on the tennis court, but neither did Federer when he was nursing an injured knee. It’s imperative for Djokovic to find that desire mentally, so that he enjoys battling for each point and doesn’t get frustrated by a few stupid errors.
Look at the bright side
After losing so often and so much, Djokovic knows that it can’t get much worse than this. Which is liberating, considering the only way to go for him is up.