The Year So Far In Review : Novak Djokovic
It would be easy to say Novak Djokovic has had a bad year. His level has plateaued since his win in Australia in 2008. 2009 to date has seen two titles, neither of which were Masters, and zero Slams. Not even a Slam final.
Novak Djokovic was clearly disappointed with his performance in Australia 09, retiring against Andy Roddick in a quarter finals. For all Novak’s complaints of ‘heat exhaustion’, it’s hard not think that perhaps just ‘exhaustion’ would have been a sufficient excuse. He had come off a bad time at the US Open, upsetting the crowd with regards to Roddick,and although he won the Shaghai Masters 08, Djokovic seemed lacking in confidence.
He reached the final of Miami, where he got dealt to by Murray, but it was on clay Novak’s season seemed about to turn around. He put in some excellent performances to come within one point of beating Nadal. Unfortunatly for him, that one point never came. Despite playing absolutely brilliantly on clay until Roland Garros, he fell flat when it mattered, losing to Kohlschreiber in straight sets in the third round.
Djokovic reached the final at Halle, where an exhausted Federer had pulled out. Clearly, this title was Djokovic’s to lose, and he did, to Tommy Haas in the final. That same mental block seemed to rear it’s head again at Wimbledon, where Djokovic lost to Haas again in the quarter finals.
The US Open 09 marked the one year anniversary of Djokovic’s troubles. The US Open in 07 was Djokovic’s breakout, in 08 it was his heartbreak. In 09, it was where Djokovic redeemed himself. He reached the semi finals where he lost to defending champion, Roger Federer, in a very closely fought three sets. It would be too easy to say that Djokovic took that match too lightly, seemingly not caring if he won or lost. Indeed, he even famously gave up on one point, preferring to make a joke to the crowd. However, the truth is, by the time that semi final rolled around, Djokovic was probably ready to leave. He had made his peace with the crowd and won them back, he had reached his first Slam semi for 2009. He may not of been playing his most inspired, fighting tennis, but Djokovic was smiling on court again. And if you’re a Djokovic fan, you know that counts.
With Murray and Federer both out of Shaghai, it is Djokovic’s opportunity to make a solid dent on the world of tennis before 2010 rolls around. He has been playing in Beijing this week, and will face Verdasco in the quartar finals. If Djokovic can keep playing freely and take title in Shaghai or Beijing, and prepare himself well when he looks to London at the end of the year, who knows what 2010 will hold. One thing is assured, when it comes to Novak Djokovic, it is sure to be entertaining.
Overall Verdict : Bumpy but hopeful