It’s more than fair to say that Novak Djokovic has had a demanding and stressful past few months. It’s been pretty special too, though: a strong run in Paris, only ended by Rafael Nadal’s unmatched brilliance in the final; a dramatic five-set triumph over Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final; a stag do in between those two and then the subsequent marriage; a baby is on the way too.
Thus, it’s not overly surprising that he hasn’t given his fans too much to shout about on the tennis court in these last two tournaments. Tommy Robredo turned back the years to take out the Serb in the third round in Cincinnati, but Djokovic was average at best.
He admitted so after the contest: “Many, many, many things are not clicking these two weeks on hard courts. It’s unfortunate, but it’s more than obvious I’m not playing even close to what I’m supposed to play”.
A strong week of practice and getting sharp is much needed for the world No. 1, as he bids to claim a second U.S. Open crown, after losing in the final the last two years (2012 to Murray; 2013 to Nadal).
If he negotiates the first week in New York, we can expect a major rise in level by the time fellow members of the top 10 come around.
The lady who stood next to Djokovic at the Wimbledon Champions’ Ball, clutching the Venus Rosewater Dish, has also been toiling on the hard courts. Petra Kvitova was so impressive on her run to a second title at SW19, but so far that form has not transferred between surfaces.
She was unexpectedly downed in straight sets by world No. 39 Elina Svitolina in her opening match in Cincy. She lost to Ekaterina Makarova in the last 16 of Montreal too.
So, with desperate need of match play on hard courts, Kvitova will enter the Connecticut Open at New Haven, to test herself along with the likes of Simona Halep, Eugenie Bouchard and Caroline Wozniacki.