Novak Djokovic Isn't Ready to Become Tennis' Alpha Dog

Dan Renfro@danrenfroCorrespondent IIISeptember 4, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 02:  Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts after winning his men's singles third round match against Julien Benneteau of France on Day Seven of the 2012 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 2, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

After the 2012 Australian Open, it looked like Novak Djokovic would become the next tennis superstar, but he isn't ready for it.

After winning four out of five Grand Slams, Djokovic was the clear-cut No. 1 player. Djoker had defeated Rafael Nadal in three straight finals. Roger Federer was in a funk. And Andy Murray still hadn't proved himself.

In eight short months, each of those men have solved their issues, and Djokovic has taken a step back. At this point, Djokovic seems to be an afterthought.

If Djoker truly deserved to be the alpha male in the tennis world, he never would've relinquished his No. 1 ranking. He played the world's best tennis for a full year, and it looked like he would start winning major tournaments on a regular basis.

Then he suddenly lost his mojo.

Nadal beat Djokovic at Roland Garros, proving that he can overcome the Serbian (and Djokovic can't win the French Open). Now, though, Nadal's injured. If he can recover from his injuries, though, there's no reason he won't return to top form.

Federer put on a legendary display at Wimbledon, reasserting himself as the best player in the world. Shortly after, Murray beat Federer at the All England Club to claim a gold medal.

After being at the forefront of every tennis conversation for a year, Djokovic is seemingly on the backburner. He's the No. 2 player in the world, but no one seems to classify him as such.

People are either talking about Federer's greatness, Murray's arrival or Nadal's absence. Despite his No. 2 ranking, Djokovic is the fourth-most exciting player in tennis right now.

Look, there's no doubting Djokovic's ability or presence. However, there is doubting his killer instinct. Somehow over the past eight months, he has lost his way. He's still playing good tennis, but he isn't dominating like he was last year.

It looked like Djoker would become the next big thing. Instead, it's beginning to look like he's a good player that had a great, aberration of a year. If Djokovic truly wants to be considered great, he must overcome that stigma.

Until then, he will continue to be the second, third or even fourth name mentioned before a Grand Slam.