Djokovic Game Continues to Falter During The Fall

Rich RodriguezCorrespondent IOctober 30, 2008

The fall indoor season continues to be a thorn in the side of Novak Djokovic.

The Serb started the year by earning his maiden Grand Slam in Melbourne and winning Indian Wells and Rome but his results have suffered since. Today the Serb was defeated 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 at the Paris Masters today by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, his second consecutive loss to the Frenchie baller after defeating him to win the Aussie Open. A couple of weeks ago, Nole fell in straight sets to Ivo Karlovic in Madrid's third round and before that lost to Jo-Willy in the Bangkok final.

Last season, the 21-year old won Vienna but fell off in a big way taking a semifinal loss in Madrid, a second round loss in Paris, a went 0-3 in the Masters Cup round robin play. Could it be that he peaks during the first half of the season but lacks the physical fitness to end the season strongly? Or is it something about indoor play that bothers him?? I believe it's the former.

Rafael Nadal used to face similar criticism (and, to some extent, still does) - his grinding style and emphasis on the clay-court season left nothing in the reserves for the fall. Nole is a grinder as well - he plays a good share of defensive tennis, prefers long rallies in long matches, and doesn't possess a "kill" shot to close out points quickly. Certainly he's gotten better at playing shorter matches at the start of tourneys, but not consistently enough and it's caught up to him again. Over time, this style takes its toll and it seems to be doing the same to Nole.

This week he strangely arrived to his opening match wearing a black mask. It seems Nole may have been hoping he could be anyone else right about now.