Despite his victory at Wimbledon, 2022 was not an easy year for Novak Djokovic. The former world number 1 paid dearly for his choice not to get vaccinated against the Coronavirus, as was to be expected. The Serbian phenomenon had to give up the Australian Open and the US Open, two events in which he would have been the big favorite for the final victory.
For the same reason, the 35-year-old from Belgrade also missed all the American Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami, Montreal and Cincinnati). After the disappointment he suffered at Roland Garros, Nole redeemed himself at Wimbledon by equaling Pete Sampras' seven triumphs.
By beating Nick Kyrgios in the final, the 'Djoker' grabbed his 21st Grand Slam and narrowed the gap that separates him from Rafael Nadal in the all-time standings. In fact, the Spaniard was unable to extend at the US Open, stopping already in the second round in front of a wild Frances Tiafoe.
Interviewed by the 'Tennis Majors' portal, the well-known journalist Ben Rothenberg said that it will not be so easy for Djokovic to return to the highest levels in 2023.
Nole missed two Slams in 2022
"If that would be the case, at this point, I would actually pick Carlos Alcaraz over Novak Djokovic, I think, because I just don't think Djokovic has the match prep," Ben Rothenberg stated during the Match Point podcast on Tennis Majors.
"I saw how slow he was to come back in the clay season this year when he didn't play Indian wells and Miami," Rothenberg said. "He had a very slow start with the clay and so we'll see. I think he's gonna play some European tournaments this fall.
I'd imagine he will get some matches. But in this imaginary scenario, where it's like the next big tournament, I don't think he has that time to get the confidence back." On the same Match Point podcast, Rothenberg questioned whether Nole Djokovic would have the "same feeling" when he does return to Melbourne, considering what happened the last time around.
"Also currently he's not legally allowed into Australia, sure that we will see, whether he even gets there first. Doesn't really matter, Its a hypothetical question," Rothenberg said. "I don't know if he will still have the same feeling when he goes back after everything that happened this year, could be a different sort of mental vibe for him in Melbourne, in the future."