It might sound a bit weird to call out probably the best tennis player in the world right now after just an off day but there might just be something that would give Novak Djokovic’s rivals like Nadal and Federer a hope for the future. And that hope does stem from his loss at Indian Wells at a comparatively early stage against an unfancied opponent. Was Djokovic expected to lose? Not at all. Was he expected to dominate? Pretty much.
Then what happened that Kohlschreiber out of nowhere completely rewrote the script. To an extent it wasn’t Kohlschreiber rewriting the script with amazing skills, rather it was the real Djokovic not turning up to play the match. And this is what would give all the potential rivals of Djokovic something to take as a positive. And this is the fact that Djokovic these days usually takes time to set himself up for the big matches which makes him vulnerable in early round matches. But if he does clear that one as well it more often than not usually means he would coast through and win the title.
In the current era, there is no player in the world who has a peak performance similar to Djokovic. But at the same time, for Djokovic to display that peak, it takes him some games to reach that level. This is probably the only difference between the Djokovic in his peak and the one who dominates the sport right now. The earlier Djokovic had very few and far off days. In fact, there have been seasons where at a stretch he would less than 10 matches throughout the year.
But if we look at some of the losses he’s suffered or his usual path to a title challenge, you’ll find Djokovic has never been at his best throughout the tournament, what has worked for him is that he’s got better and better with every match and near the sharp end of the tournament he’s kicked things up a notch and performed at a level that was not easy for others to replicate.
Be it the Australian Open this year where early rounds clearly suggested Nadal being the superior force while coming through the opponents, or be it his journey at Wimbledon where he just got better and better and it was not before the Nadal match that people were convinced of him. This is a clear chink in the armor which Djokovic’s early rival would be looking to exploit and in many ways, this could be his biggest shortcoming if any which can stop him from winning the French Open and holding all the 4 Major titles at the same time.