Serena Williams' ex-coach issues realistic take on 'Novak Djokovic is done' comments

Coach Patrick Mouratoglou weighs in on some writting off Djokovic after the Serb failed to win the Australian Open.

by Dzevad Mesic
Serena Williams' ex-coach issues realistic take on 'Novak Djokovic is done' comments
© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

Serena Williams' ex-coach Patrick Mouratoglou thinks Novak Djokovic being labeled as "done" after failing to win the Australian Open is the best possible example of how top players "are not allowed to fail" and to how much pressure and expectations they are exposed.

Following a 2023 season in which 36-year-old Djokovic made all four Grand Slam finals and lifted three Major titles, the Serb was receiving praise from all sides and tipped to continue his Slam dominance in 2024. But it didn't go as expected and planned for Djokovic at the Australian Open, who suffered a 6-1 6-2 6-7 (6) 6-3 loss to Jannik Sinner in the semifinal.

After Djokovic didn't earn a single break point and got completely outplayed by Sinner, some were quick to write off the world No. 1 and claim that that match signaled the start of a new era. In just a couple of weeks, Djokovic went from being widely praised and tipped for more major success to being written off. 

Caroline Garcia, the 2022 WTA Finals champion, was reading those comments on X and decided to issue her honest take on it. 

"I was scrolling a bit and basically Djokovic was the GOAT 2 weeks ago, still so young, moving so well beyond of this age, going for another Slam once again, a true inspiration. And now he is too old, we are in a completely new era, he is finished for tennis … this is funny," Garcia wrote on X. 

Reacting to Garcia's post, coach Mouratoglou fully agreed with the Frenchwomen's take and highlighted how big of pressure and expectations are placed on athletes like Djokovic: "That says it all about the expectations and pressure a player experiences when at the top of the game. They are not allowed to fail otherwise they are labelled « done »."

Djokovic asked if he is 'starting to play like someone your own age'

Djokovic, who entered this year's Australian Open without a loss at Melbourne Park since 2018, wasn't really convincing throughout the entire tournament. 

In his first match at the tournament, Djokovic was made to work hard by 169th-ranked qualifier Dino Prizmic before sealing a four-set win. In his following match, Djokovic wasn't convincing either as he again needed four sets to beat Alexei Popyrin. 

After starting with two four-set wins, Djokovic managed to claim back-to-back straight-set wins over Tomas Martin Etcheverry and Adrian Mannarino. Before losing to Sinner, Djokovic clinched another four-set win as he defeated Taylor Fritz.

Although Djokovic wasn't really convincing, he still managed to make the Australian Open semifinal. But when he stumbled upon in-form Sinner, Djokovic didn't have any answers. 

After the match, a reporter directly asked Djokovic - who is turning 37 in May - if he starting to play like someone his age.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic© Getty Images Sport - Graham Denholm

"Let's see (smiling). Don't know. I still have high hopes, you know, for other slams, Olympics, and whatever tournaments that I'll play. It's just the beginning of the season," Djokovic said.

"It's not the feeling that I'm used to. I mean, it kind of has been incredibly satisfying for me, you know, to start off most of my seasons with a Grand Slam win and never lost in semis or finals of the Australian Open.

"So this time it's a bit different, but it is what it is. Let's see. I don't know. This tournament hasn't been, as I said, up to my standard or criteria or the level that I would normally play or expect myself to play, but doesn't necessarily mean that it's beginning of the end, you know, as some people like to call it. Let's see what happens in the rest of the season."

What's next for Djokovic?

After a disappointing end to his Australian Open run, Djokovic went to Spain with his family. Currently, Djokovic does not have any scheduled tournaments for February. 

If Djokovic sits out the entire February, he will very likely return to action at the Indian Wells Masters and Miami Masters. After missing Indian Wells and Miami in the last two years due to being unable to enter the United States as an unvaccinated foreigner, Djokovic is allowed to return to the Double Sunshine this year.

After the Double Sunshine, the clay season takes place and it will undoubtedly be a very important part of the season for Djokovic. Last year, Djokovic wasn't convincing in the tournaments leading up to the French Open but still managed to find his game and form in time and win his third title at Roland Garros. 

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

Following everything that happened at the Australian Open, there is no doubt that Djokovic will be looking to make a statement at the French Open and prove to everyone that he is not going anywhere. When asked about his French Open chances after his Australian Open, Djokovic highlighted it was still too far but underlined that there are several players that he will be legitimate contenders for the title. 

It will be interesting to see if Djokovic can fire back at his doubters and critics by winning this year's French Open and becoming the first-ever player with 25 Grand Slams.

Serena Williams Novak Djokovic Patrick Mouratoglou