Novak Djokovic failed to defend his Australian Open title, losing to Jannik Sinner in the semi-final. The dominant figure at notable events will now focus on the four remaining gems of the season, setting his eyes on Roland Garros, Wimbledon, the Olympic Games and the US Open.
Former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli is a massive fan of Novak's game, celebrating his successes and calling him the most accomplished player ever. Bartoli is Djokovic's believer, feeling confident about his chances against the young opponents at the remaining three Majors and the Olympic Games.
Novak was a player to beat in 2023, winning seven ATP titles and lifting three Major trophies from four finals. Djokovic kept the younger players behind and finished as the year-end no. 1 for the eighth time in a career at 36.
Novak started the new season at the United Cup, beating three rivals before losing to Alex de Minaur in straight sets, struggling with a wrist injury and raising concerns ahead of the Australian Open.
A ten-time Melbourne Park winner came to his beloved Major without his A-game, dealing with a minor virus and struggling to deliver his best tennis. Novak needed over four hours to pass the first obstacles at Rod Laver Arena, toppling the young Croat Dino Prizmic in four sets on his seventh match point.
A 24-time Major winner lost another set against Alexei Popyrin in the second round before moving over the top in three hours and 11 minutes. The Serb played better against Tomas Martin Etcheverry and Adrian Mannarino, clinching two bagels against the Frenchman and hoping for more in the quarter-final against Taylor Fritz.
Marion Bartoli backed Novak Djokovic to win notable titles in 2024.
Novak's first serious rival caused him many troubles, but the veteran prevailed in four sets after three hours and 45 minutes. Two rivals pushed each other to the limits in the opening two sets at Rod Laver Arena during the day session, splitting them after two hours and 23 minutes!
Novak earned 15 break points and wasted them all, defending two set points in the opener before dropping the second. The Serb finally found the rhythm on the return from the third set, securing four breaks and moving over the top without spending more time on the court.
Never losing at the Australian Open after passing the quarter-final round, Novak faced a formidable rival in a battle for a place in the final. The 4th seed Jannik Sinner produced rock-solid tennis and dethroned the veteran 6-1, 6-2, 6-7, 6-3 in three hours and 22 minutes, moving into his first Major final and ending Novak's streak of 33 consecutive Melbourne Park wins.
The Italian stormed over the Serb in the opening two sets, clinching them in 73 minutes and gathering a massive boost. Novak saved a match point in the tie break of the third set before getting broken once in the fourth, propelling Jannik over the top.
Djokovic never liked his chances against such a strong rival, spraying over 50 unforced errors and suffering five breaks from 11 chances offered to Sinner. For the first in completed matches at Majors, Novak failed to create a break chance, reaching only a couple of deuces on Jannik's serve and calling it one of his worst performances at Majors.
Sinner grabbed an early break in the encounter's second game and created another opportunity at 3-0. Novak denied it before experiencing the second break in game six after a backhand error. Jannik held at 5-1, sealing the opener in 35 minutes.
The Italian dropped four points behind the initial shot in the second set, keeping the pressure on the other side. Jannik secured a break in the third game and closed the next two service games with service winners for a 4-2 lead.
Jannik broke again in the seventh game and held a few minutes later for a colossal 6-1, 6-2 lead in no time. Novak ended his downfall in the opening stage of the third set, serving well after that and reaching a tie break. Jannik earned a match point with a service winner at 5-5, and Novak denied it to stay competitive, stealing the breaker 8-6 and extending the battle.
Playing with full confidence, Sinner left that chance behind and kept the pressure on Djokovic in the fourth set after four good holds. Novak denied three break points in the second game before opening a 40-0 lead at 1-2.
The Serb missed his chances to close the game and got broken after a loose backhand.
Novak served to stay in the match in game eight and held at love for 3-5. Jannik served for a place in the final in game nine and fired two service winners at 15-30 before seizing the first match point with a forehand down the line winner.
Novak will now turn his focus on Roland Garros, seeking the title defense after a great Parisian run in 2023. "Novak had an excellent 2023 season, starting the new a bit worn and tired. After the Australian Open, there are four more deadlines for Novak in 2024.
He should take a break and recharge his batteries ahead of Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the Olympic Games. It will be a challenging sequence to conquer, with two surface changes, but he should be ready. The young guns are pushing strong, but Novak's Australian Open failure remains an accident for me.
We can not say it marks Novak's end; thinking about that is premature. Novak missed the Australian Open but will not do that with the entire season, I can guarantee you that," Marion Bartoli said.