There was a time when Novak Djokovic seemed invincible. Even when he was playing badly and on the verge of losing, Djokovic would find his inner mojo and bounce back miraculously. His mental toughness, ability to win the big points and an all-round game made him a contender for the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) tag. With 12 grand slams in his kitty, Djokovic looked set to beat Roger Federer’s record if he continued his top form for another two or three years.
But, that was not to be. After winning the French Open last year and completing his grand slam, he claimed to feel demotivated. “Winning the French Open this year (2016) has brought a lot of joy to me but on the other hand has taken away a lot from me, as well. I felt a little bit exhausted, I must say, and maybe less motivated,” Djokovic revealed in a press conference.
At Wimbledon, the Grand Slam after French Open, Djokovic was knocked out by Sam Querrey in the third round which gave Andy Murray an easier route to win the championship. Things never really looked uphill from there onwards, but you still had a feeling Djokovic will muster up the resources to bounce back.
When he lost in the US Open final against Stan Wawrinka, doubts started creeping in about his invincibility. Then, he lost the No. 1 ranking to Andy Murray who went on a crazy streak of victories. Djokovic did get a chance to reclaim his No. 1 position back at the ATP World Tour finals, but Murray (the opponent he had so comfortably dominated for so long) got the better of him.
The final nail in the coffin was when he lost to Denis Istomin (ranked No. 117 in the world) in just the second round of Australian Open, his favourite grand slam. A tournament where he had lifted the trophy six times. Still, we saw the loss as just another bad day.
However, after his recent submission against Nick Kyrgios at the Mexican Open, we’re having doubts about whether he can still play Tennis at the level that he used to. Mostly because, we are sure Djokovic is putting in all the effort that’s possible. His frustration with himself was apparent in his curt 12-word press conference (that lasted just 24 seconds) after the match against Kyrgios. “He has a big serve, he deserved to win. Congrats,” Djokovic said.
Of course, we could be wrong about all this and with two ATP Masters 1000 (Indian Wells and Miami) tournaments coming soon, Djokovic could announce that he is back at his best. But, as armchair critics, we are not placing any bets on him.