World No. 1 Novak Djokovic had been in terrific form all year on hardcourts, having romped to titles at the Australian Open, ATP Cup, Dubai Open and the Cincinnati Masters. The Serb's bid to stay unbeaten in 2020, however, hit a major roadblock at the US Open when he was defaulted from the event for hitting a lineswoman with the ball.
Djokovic put his misadventure at Flushing Meadows behind him as he continued his scintillating 2020 season at the Rome Masters, where he won the title yesterday.
Novak Djokovic dropped just one set en route his record-breaking 36th Masters 1000 title at the Italian Open, improving his record to 31-1 W-L for the year.
But despite the truckload of titles this season, Novak Djokovic has had a turbulent year. There have been several off-court issues dogging him wherever he has gone, even aside from the disqualification in New York.
Against that background, Tennis Channel recently invited tennis pundit Paul Annacone to discuss Novak Djokovic's triumph at Rome and his psyche right now.
In the Rome final, Novak Djokovic lifted his level towards the end of the match. However, his overall performance against Diego Schwartzman was not that impressive; he went a break down in each of the first two sets.
Following his win over the Argentine, Novak Djokovic himself remarked that he had not played his best tennis during the week.
“I don't want to sound arrogant, but I didn't play my best tennis. Fortunately, I found it a bit when I really needed it," Djokovic said.
Paul Annacone, who has coached 20-time Major winner Roger Federer in the past, seemed to agree with Djokovic's sentiment.
"He said it, it hasn't been his best week. I think the key for all great players is finding ways to win even when it's not your best week," Annacone said.
"And that's what Novak Djokovic did, we saw it today. Coming back from 3-0 in the first set, a double break down," Annacone added.
Novak Djokovic seems pretty irritable: Paul Annacone
Novak Djokovic struggled in the opening few games of every match he played during the Italian Open. Apart from that he was also frequently in disagreement with the umpires, and argued with them at several points of the tournament.
Some have claimed that maybe the Serb is still in a cloudy mood after his North American hardcourt swing ended so disastrously.
Besides the disqualification at the US Open, Novak Djokovic's highlights from a tumultuous year include: hosting the Adria Tour amid the global health crisis, him and his wife contracting the virus at the same event, and resigning from the ATP Players Council to form a rebel association.
But Annacone pointed out that while Novak Djokovic has had his off-court issues, he has shown tremendous grit and focus to keep playing at a sufficiently high level.
"He continues to amaze. His game is so efficient, and he knows how to manage it. The only thing that would worry me is his frame of mind, more than anything, because he seems pretty irritable," Annacone said.
"If I were him or his team, I would say take a couple of days off from tennis. Just relax a bit and get away with it. Just recharge," Annacone added.
Annacone might be on to something given how off-color Djokovic looked during the week. Having been in turmoil ever since the tour resumed in August, Novak Djokovic will finally have a few days of rest before he heads to the 2020 French Open, which is scheduled to kick off on 27 September.