Since triumphing at the French Open last year Novak Djokovic’s form has taken an alarming decline, with the Serb dropping behind Andy Murray into number two in the world rankings. The 29-year-old has struggled immensely in Grand Slams, suffering early exits at Wimbledon and this year at the Australian Open.
Djokovic was forced to watch Roger Federer edge further ahead of him at the top of the all-time title rankings, winning his 18th crown, while the Serb remains off the pace in his bid to surpass the Swiss.
Just over a year ago, it seemed a formality that the 29-year-old would make a strong surge to overhaul Federer’s impressive resume, but now it seems far from certain that he will get back to form on the major stage to add to his collection of titles.
With Federer’s resurgence, Murray’s consistency and Rafael Nadal’s dominance on clay, Djokovic faces a huge challenge to win back-to-back titles at the French Open.
The 29-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough in the tournament last year to secure a feat that not even the Swiss could perform by holding all four Grand Slam crowns at once. However, he will need to return to his imperious best on court to beat out his rivals, being backed in the latest bet365 betting odds at 13/8 to triumph for the second time in his career at Roland Garros.
Djokovic’s issues began after his victory at the French Open last year. He put in a fine performance to overcome Murray in four sets to notch his 12th Grand Slam and was expected to cruise to another title at Wimbledon weeks later. The first chink in his armour were exposed by Sam Querrey as the American produced an inspired display to knock the reigning champion out of the competition – his first exit before the semi-final stage since 2009.
He was unable to get into gear at the Olympics in his quest to win a gold medal. Juan Martin del Potro’s power proved to be too much for the Serb to handle, knocking him out in the first round of the tournament in straight sets. Djokovic used the time off to rebound at the US Open to reach the final at Flushing Meadows, but he failed to rise to the occasion in the final as another powerful baseliner got the better of him as Stanislas Wawrinka triumphed.
The 29-year-old’s year would end in almost a whimper with early losses in ATP events in Shanghai and Paris, forfeiting his number one ranking to Murray. His desperate attempts to reclaim his position ended in defeat in the ATP Tour Finals in London as the Scot edged him out at the O2 Arena with a fine display, leaving the Serb mulling over his next move.
He managed to get his revenge early this year with a victory in Doha over his great rival, but the problems intensified in a tournament where he has dominated, losing in five sets to Denis Istomin.
The talent is still there in abundance as proven by his win over Murray at the beginning of the year, but whether his confidence and fitness on the court is where it needs to be to get back on track is another matter. Expectations of the 29-year-old are always high, but given his recent form, he may relish the chance to play the underdog.
Federer and Nadal’s resurgence could bring him back to life to re-ignite his challenge to supplant the two greats at the top of the sport.