Much has been made in the past about Rafael Nadal's physical playing style and the effect it has had on his body, as he's been forced to take serious time off in recent years due to injury.
Can the same now be said of Novak Djokovic?
The world's No. 1 pulled out of the BNP Paribas Masters event in Paris today before his quarterfinal match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga due to a lingering right shoulder injury. The shoulder also gave him problems last week at a tournament in Basel, Switzerland—his first event since being forced to take time off with a back muscle injury.
Those are two big problem areas for any professional tennis player to deal with. Add them to the knee problems Djokovic dealt with earlier in the season—when Kiniseo Tape appeared to be his fashion accessory of choice—and it seems like all of the winning Djokovic has been doing in the past 12 months is taking its toll.
His style of play might be a contributing factor, too.
Djokovic can do anything on the court. He can hit groundstroke winners off both sides, whether through power or placement. He can come up with big serves. And he has magnificent touch around the net. Plus he knows when to utilize his various abilities—the true key to his near-legendary year.
But Djokovic's physical style may be having adverse effects on his body. He stays in points much longer now in order to set up winners rather than going for them early in the rally.
Djokovic is certainly no slouch in the athletic department: How many times have you seen him this year hitting open-stance forehand winners after being yanked off the court by some sharply angled drive?
It's intimidating to opponents who feel they don't have a chance of hitting Djokovic off the court— they same way they feel when they step on the court against Nadal.
Djokovic has demolished a number of opponents in 2011, but he's also been involved in a few dogfights on his way to 10 titles. To ease some of the wear and tear going forward, better scheduling will be key.
Djokovic won't change his style of play—especially after the results it has yielded so far.