After a disappointing start to the 2014 season, Novak Djokovic finally seems to be back on track.
Last week, the 26-year-old ended his drought by capturing his first tournament win of the year at the ATP BNP Paribas Open. Although it wasn’t easy—all but one of his six matches went to three sets—a win is a win.
That’s especially the case when you consider that other top players, such as Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka all bowed out before the quarterfinals. Djokovic also deserves credit for outlasting a revived Roger Federer (3-6, 6-3, 7-6) in the finals.
Given the form Federer has shown in recent weeks—including defeating Djokovic in the Dubai finals earlier this month—that accomplishment was no easy feat.
ATP commentator Rob Koenig brought up an even more impressive accomplishment by the No. 2-ranked player in the world:
But to Djokovic, the win merely serves as a foundation to build upon moving forward.
“I had ups and downs in my concentration in opening rounds,” he said after the victory, per Tennisnow.com’s Chris Oddo. “But I managed to stay, as I said before, mentally strong and have the self belief. That’s something that definitely makes this title very special to me, and it’s going to mean a lot for what’s coming up.”
Next up for the Serbian is the Sony Open. It’s an event he’s had a lot of success at, winning three times, including two of the last three.
The draw didn’t do Djokovic too many favors.
Both Murray and Federer are lurking on his half of the bracket. Djokovic could meet up with the former in the quarterfinals while the latter could be waiting in the semifinals.
The main course: A potential date with Nadal in the finals.
But if Djokovic can keep up his run of form, those names will be nothing more than obstacles in his way to capturing another tournament title.
With the way he’s serving, Djokovic would be a tough out for just about anyone. Thus far, he’s connecting on 68 percent of his first serves, securing 77 percent of first-serve points and winning 90 percent of his service games.
All three of those marks are currently career highs for the 11-year veteran.
That’s a good sign for Djokovic, who is hoping his serving prowess can translate into another Grand Slam victory. After winning five such tournaments from 2011-12, he’s only won one in his last eight tries.
For a player who is looking to etch his name as one of the greatest to ever pick up a racket, that is simply not good enough.
If he can emerge victorious in Miami, it could be just the springboard he needs heading into the meaty part of the season.