If Novak Djokovic’s “decline” has started, it can only be confirmed between the Indian Wells and Miami Open tournaments, believes Italian former player Paolo Bertolucci. Djokovic looked far from his best at the recently concluded Australian Open despite his run to the semifinals, which prompted the discussion about his apparent downturn.
Djokovic was clearly not well when he started his Australian Open campaign. The Serb was suffering from a bout of cold, and was surprisingly given a run for his money in the very first round by 18-year-old Croatian Dino Prizmic. Djokovic lost a set but managed to scrape through 6-2, 6(5)-7, 6-3, 6-4.
Only against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in the fourth round did he truly look convincing, which was reflected by the 6-0, 6-0, 6-3 scoreline. American Taylor Fritz also gave the 24-time Grand Slam champion an almighty scare in the quarterfinals, but the Serb survived 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
However, during the semifinal against eventual champion Jannik Sinner, Djokovic’s frailties were brutally exposed. Across the first two sets, the defending champion looked shellshocked as he made error upon unforced error.
With the scoreline at 1-6, 2-6, Djokovic somehow managed to claw his way back into the contest by winning the third set 7-6(6) after a tense tiebreak. However, his errors resurfaced, and Sinner broke his 2195-day unbeaten streak Down Under as Djokovic lost the fourth set 3-6. All in all, Djokovic made 54 unforced errors and also failed to create any break point opportunities on the Italian’s serve.
After the match, murmurs of Djokovic’s downfall started, but according to Paolo Bertolucci, it’s still far too early to come to a definitive conclusion. He opened up on the matter in an interview with Fanpage.it.
“He is a player who played badly in Australia,” Bertolucci said. “Now if this is due to a problem that can happen, because it happens when someone doesn’t get his preparation right, or if the decline had begun, we will find out between Indian Wells and Miami.”
Bertolucci also asserted that the people in Djokovic’s team are the only ones who know the reality.
“We will see if he has recovered or not. I have no ideas because we would have to have seen the training sessions, understand if he stopped or not and with what intensity. Only those who know that within the team.”
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