Novak Djokovic loses everything: no titles and No.1 trembling

The Serbian tennis player is having a horror season: will he be able to be reborn at the Roland Garros?

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Novak Djokovic loses everything: no titles and No.1 trembling
© Mike Hewitt / Staff - Getty Images Sport

"I don't know about my defeat, also due to the canteen issue. Yesterday I did a good workout and I didn't feel anything, but I didn't even feel the same sensations as before. Today, under stress, it was quite bad: not in terms of pain but of balance.
I had no coordination whatsoever and I was a completely different player than I was two nights ago. I will have to do some medical checks and we will see what is happening. I didn't do any tests after the blow I received with the water bottle.

Right now I feel like I should do it though. You could see very clearly what happened in the video. It was a really unfortunate situation for me. It was an incident where that guy leaned over the fence and the water bottle fell out of his backpack directly onto my head. It was unexpected, I felt a sudden blow to my head. I received medical attention and was nauseous and dizzy for an hour. So many different sensations. Today it was as if a different player had stepped into my shoes. It's a bit worrying."

And in fact, the performance offered by Novak Djokovic in the third round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia against Alejandro Tabilo was disconcerting. An unexpected defeat, which shows a tennis player in serious difficulty. I want to underline a passage from Djokovic's interview at the press conference: Today it was as if a different player had entered my shoes. I agree with Nole's words but, net of the incident with the canteen, which may have had a significant impact on his performance against Tabilo in Rome, it seemed to see a completely different tennis player throughout 2024, compared to what we saw in 2023. But I think something could change in the next few weeks.

Novak Djokovic, Rome Masters 2024
Novak Djokovic, Rome Masters 2024© Dan Istitene / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The canteen-issue can justify the defeat against Tabilo, but not his horror 2024 tennis season. Djokovic looked worried at the press conference after one of the worst performances of his career. Concerned about the sensations felt on the court, about those not felt, about the level expressed against Alejandro Tabilo and, indeed, about the blow he received to the head last Friday.

"I want to congratulate my opponent, it was the first time I played against him. He is a great tennis player with excellent qualities and plays all over the court. I wasn't able to find good sensations on the court. Many things have to improve if I want to have at least a chance to win Roland Garros," he told.

There are obvious problems that Nole is facing in 2024, starting with the Australian Open and the semi-final defeat against Jannik Sinner. From January 2024 to today it has been a sporting ordeal. Which led first to the separation with his historic coach Goran Ivanisevic, then to the many changes in his staff. Is it a problem of motivation? Possible; at 37 years old, Djokovic has already set almost every possible and imaginable record, becoming the most titled player in the history of tennis. He lacks a handful of titles and records to definitively be considered the GOAT: the Olympic gold medal, the 8th Wimbledon title (to match Roger Federer's record) and the 25th Slam (to overtake Margaret Court).

To pursue these goals, however, Nole will necessarily have to raise his level. And he also quickly. What can help Djokovic? Obviously the Roland Garros. In Paris, where he is defending champion, Djokovic will be able to try to rediscover himself and his tennis, also trying to take advantage of the physical problems of his rivals such as Carlitos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner. Sinner who, right in Paris, could wrest the tennis throne from the Serbian. In short, Djokovic is losing everything but at the Roland Garros he will be able to 

Novak Djokovic Roland Garros