The defeat with withdrawal at the US Open against Stan Wawrinka, the arm injury and Rafael Nadal's New York victory have surely left some negative slag in Novak Djokovic's mind. Even a solid player like the Serb has his negative moments, and from New York to today he must have had some hazy thoughts.
Anyway already in Beijing he is showing a good level of physical shape, with the injury to his arm that now seems (almost) just a memory. At each step of approaching Roger Federer's record he has made over the last two years, however, Rafael Nadal's response has arrived, determined to put another distance between his Slams (19) and Djokovic's Majors (16).
The Spaniard is the only opponent that the Serb can and must fear now. Both for the Slam race and for the fight for the world no. 1. Nadal will overcome Djokovic on November 4th, returning to sit on the ATP rankings throne almost exactly one year away from he lost it.
Their struggle will surely continue even in 2020, both in the tournaments and in the ranking, starting from London ATP Finals. Djokovic has shown in recent years that he can bend Federer at almost every match they played and on almost all surfaces.
A domain that is becoming chronic as a virus for the Swiss Maestro, which is fighting a real mission impossible against the Serb. In contrast, Rafa may be the biggest obstacle on the Nole's road. A comparison that will animate the coming months, and that will cover the first place of the ATP ranking, the Slams and the ATP Masters 1000.
In the last month between the match with Wawrinka at Flushing Meadws and the problem with the arm we have seen Nole more nervous than usual. A nervousness that will help him raise the level between London and Melbourne, after the defeat in Shangha Rolex Masters quarters.
With Federer in the background as an interested party and ready to get in touch with them, for now the Djokovic-Nadal duel may affect the coming weeks and the first part of 2020.