There was a time a few years ago when some wondered whether or not Novak Djokovic would ever lose again.
After the year he had in 2011 and start in 2012, it appeared no one in the world could stop the Serbian from exerting his dominance over the sport.
But following that string of four straight Grand Slam victories, the Djoker has just one major win for his efforts at the 2013 Australian Open. Djokovic has fallen out of the world No. 1 ranking, replaced by Rafael Nadal, and lost in two finals matches to close out the 2013 season.
Then came this year's Aussie Open. Coming in as the clear favorite, Djokovic was dispatched in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2010. Though it appeared to be a huge disappointment for the Serbian, Djokovic said he was still working out the kinks with new coach Boris Becker, per Simon Briggs of The Telegraph:
I can say I was lucky with some shots last year in our match. This time it was him that had luck a little bit on 30-all, this mis-hit return, but this is sport. He showed his mental strength and he deserved to win.
It’s been the first official tournament for us. I’m satisfied with things that we’ve been talking about working on. It’s the beginning of the season and we’ll see what’s coming next.
What came next for the Serbian has been a slow return to the top. His brilliance on the court has returned with the slight tweaks from Becker.
All of the hard work paid off at Indian Wells. Djokovic surged through the field en route to a final with another former world No. 1 in Roger Federer. The clash went a full three sets, as Federer controlled the first set before the Djoker turned it on in the last two, per ESPN Tennis:
With the win at the BNP Paribas Open, the No. 2 player in the world looked sharp, strong and returned to a superb form of tennis that had him as one of the most dominant forces just years ago.
Not only did Djokovic come away with a title, but he also proved to himself that he had returned to the mentality that he had when he was crushing the competition. The 26-year-old spoke about the regained confidence with ESPN:
Not winning a title and coming here, there were certain doubts. I had ups and downs in my concentration in opening rounds, but I managed to stay mentally strong and have that self-belief. That's something that definitely makes this title very special to me.
Following up the blistering tennis that he played in California, Djokovic has continued to stay on track thus far during the Sony Open. Unfortunately, his outburst against the chair umpire in his match on Friday is garnering all of the attention, as Eurosport reports:
Djokovic responded angrily to being handed a time violation, yelling “you have to understand the game” at the umpire. The outburst overshadowed an entertaining match, in which Chardy ran Djokovic close before eventually succumbing 6-4 6-3 in 1 hour and 24 minutes.
Regardless of the emotions that Djoker showed on the court, he is showing the same fire that made him the best player in the world in the past. Thanks to the work with Becker and his improved play on the court, the Serbian is primed for a huge season that could end with a few more Grand Slams.
With the opening of the French Open two months away on May 25, the 26-year-old still has time to improve his game even more before looking to clinch his first-ever title at the tournament.
Djokovic is slowly convincing himself that he can return to the form that he had years ago. Following one of his most disappointing Grand Slams in nearly four years, expect more of the old Djoker moving forward.
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