Djokovic Quests for Winning Form in Melbourne

first_imgNow that he has had an offseason to recover and regroup, we’ll get the answer to our next question: Was the second half of Djokovic’s 2016 a temporary slump, or was it the beginning of the long-term decline that the game’s greatest players have traditionally experienced as they move toward their 30s? Before turning 29, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal combined to win 30 Slams; since turning 29, they’ve combined to win one. After Laver completed his Grand Slam in 1969, at age 31, he never won another major. Could Djokovic’s fall be as steep? I doubt it. He blamed some of his second-half struggles on personal issues, and there’s no reason not to believe him. More important, the last two times he surrendered the No. 1 ranking, to Federer in 2012 and Nadal in 2013, Djokovic wasted little time before taking it back. In both of those cases, having someone to chase re-energized Djokovic. Would you bet against it happening again in 2017?Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Last June, as he fell to the clay in Court Philippe Chatrier after winning his first French Open, Novak Djokovic was the most dominant male tennis player in more than four decades. With that long-awaited victory, the world No. 1 had become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four major titles. Five years after taking over the No. 1 ranking, he had vanquished all of his rivals. The only question that remained, it seemed, was whether Djokovic would go on to become the greatest player in history. Even more ominous for the rest of the tour was the fact that, despite all of his accomplishments, he was still the second-youngest player in the ATP’s Top 10. Yes, Djokovic had turned 29 the previous month, but who was going to stop him from piling up as many Slam titles as he wanted over the next three, four, five, maybe 10 years?Four weeks later we found out the answer: It was Djokovic himself. With no rivals left, no immediate goals to achieve and expectations at an all-time high, he said the joy went out of the game for him. With it went his edge over everyone else. The new tone was set at Wimbledon, where unseeded American Sam Querrey sent Djokovic packing in the third round; it was the first time since 2009 that he had lost before the quarterfinals at a major. From there, Djokovic would go out in the first round at the Olympic Games, fail to defend his late-season titles in Shanghai, Paris and London, and lose his second straight major final to Stan Wawrinka, at the U.S. Open. Djokovic said he needed a rest, and he played like it.last_img

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