The continuing struggle of Novak Djokovic in 2018
Former World No. 1 Novak Djokovic's exit in the first round of the Miami open at the hands of Benoit Paire has further dented his confidence ahead of the clay-court season.
The 12-time Grand Slam winner came back during the Australian Open after a six-month injury layoff due to an elbow injury. The expectations from the Serbian were very high at the Australian Open as it was his most favoured surface with half of his grand slam tally coming from there. Also with Federer coming back from an injury to win the Australian Open 2017, fans were expecting him to be a serious contender at the first Major.
In Novak Djokovic's case, the other side of how an injury can affect a player was seen on full display during the Australian Open. From his remodelled serve to lack of power in his shots, it was clear that he had lost some of the bites which had made him invincible during the 2015 season.
The winner of the inaugural ATP NextGen Hyeon Chung powered his way though Novak Djokovic by not only engaging in long rallies but also attacking the Serbian's service games. It was clear that the elbow had not healed completely and he had to undergo an elbow surgery to correct it.
At Indian Wells, he was not expected to win the title but was widely predicted to put up a challenge and make a deep run. His loss at the hands of World No. 109 Daniel Taro in the second round was shocking to watch. What was more disturbing was his press conference in which he out that it felt like he was playing his first match on the tour.
With the ATP schedule being so tight, it either gives a player momentum when he wins as seen from Federer's 17 match winning streak and Delpotro's 15 matches unbeaten streak or derails a campaign as seen from Djokovic's recent first-round loss at Miami.
While it is sad to see the 12-time Grand Slam winner struggle for his form, it shows the dark side of how an injury can affect the sportsperson both physically and mentally. It is just a myth that the rest during injury layoff can help the player to perform well, it can also result in poor form due to a lack of match practice and a lower confidence level as seen In Djokovic's case. Let's just hope that Nole recovers quickly and gets back to his best during the clay-court season.