Novak Djokovic showed signs of recovery at the Mutua Madrid Open, losing in the semifinals to a wild Carlos Alcaraz. In what was the best game of 2022 (at least so far), the Serbian only surrendered to the decisive tiebreak and proved to be on the right track.
After coming close to the 'Calendar Grand Slam' last year, the 34-year-old from Belgrade has had to deal with a lot of difficulties at the start of the season. Due to his choice not to get vaccinated against Coronavirus, the 20-time Grand Slam champion was unable to defend his title at the Australian Open and suffered serious damage to his image.
Strict US regulations forced him to skip the Indian Wells and Miami Masters 1000s as well. The world number 1 has repeatedly reiterated that his great goal is to reach Roland Garros 100%, where he will be called to defend the title won in 2021.
In a recent interview with 'L'Equipe', Serbian coach Petar Popovic analyzed the defeat suffered by Nole against Alcaraz in Madrid.
Carlos Alcaraz outplayed Novak Djokovic
If Novak Djokovic had a very good match against Carlos Alcaraz in the semis in Madrid, despite the defeat, he underperformed in an area where he usually excels: the return of service.
In comments collected by L'Equipe, Serbian coach Petar Popovic pointed the finger at Goran Ivanisevic, now alone to train the world number 1 since the departure of Marian Vajda. “Djokovic should have moved closer to his line and taken Alcaraz’s rising kick serves.
Novak is the best of all time on the return, but on Saturday he did like all the “mortals” in tennis: he got too far behind his line. In Madrid, it squirts, so he took the ball at the worst moment, over the head.
It's not a technical problem, it's a positioning error, a huge mistake that almost never happens to him. I did not understand that Goran does not tell him to change. It was the key to the game. With three, four matches in Rome, it will be settled.
Novak served well, his forehand was very good and, physically, I'm not afraid for him. It will be stronger and stronger. At Roland, he will be close to his best." Carlos Alcaraz outplayed Novak Djokovic in undoubtedly one of the most epic matches of the 2022 Madrid Open.
The two played their highest level of tennis, leaving no stone unturned in finding a way to beat each other. However, after a thrilling battle of 3 hours and 35 minutes, it was Alcaraz who marked his maiden victory over Djokovic.