World No. 1 Novak Djokovic began his match against Roberto Bautista Agut in commanding fashion, in dominant form, but one rain delay later, it all fell apart, with the Spaniard coming back to win the set, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3. The rain delay wreaked havoc while the 15-time slam champ was up 5-4 in the second.
When the two players returned to the court, momentum shifted dramatically to Bautista Agut, transforming the match into a different dynamic, with the resilient 22nd seed hitting back strong. This the second time this year that the Spanish player has turned a match around after Djokovic claimed the first set, repeating the feat from Doha earlier this year.
The Serb spoke about the disappointment in his press conference in Miami afterwards. “Yeah, I mean, he's solid player. Congratulations to him definitely for a great comeback. But this kind of match I should not have lost.
So many opportunities. Just way too many wasted opportunities. This is what happens when you don't capitalize on time”. He spoke about how the momentum shifted in the match. “I mean, I thought I played well today and throughout this entire tournament.
I just -- yeah. One, two, three sluggish games, and that's what happened”. The six-time Miami Open champion also clarified that he didn’t think the rain delay was the cause of his troubles in the match. “Well, it's not the rain delay.
Look, rain delay came at 5-4. I was break up right away in the second. I lost the momentum, I lost the rhythm in the second set. “I gave him, you know, a little room to step in and he did. A little hope that he can come back, and he made a great comeback.
“But fault is on me, for sure. I had way too many opportunities that I wasted”. Novak Djokovic also spoke about some of the issues outside tennis that may be distracting him. At the same time, he put the loss in perspective, taking it in stride as he prepares now for the clay season.
“I mean, just had, you know, way too many things off the court. “I guess that affected me a little bit on the court. I didn't feel my best health-wise, as well, in Indian Wells and here. You know, still rusty, but, hey, look, you learn, that's life”.
It is the second straight hard court Masters 1000 tournament he leaves early, having also gone out in his second match at Indian Wells, the first leg of the ‘Sunshine Double,’ another hard court tournament he’s won similar to his past six titles in Miami (5 at Indian Wells).
As the 31-year-old is getting older, Djokovic said he is turning more of his attention towards the grand slams. “Well, I mean, the slams are the ones that count the most, I mean, without a doubt. So of course I prioritize those.
“But that hasn't changed much. I mean, I have been having this kind of schedule for many years. But, you know, look, as I said, that's sport. You have to deal with it. “It's not the first time I lose early in both tournaments.
I have done that last couple of years. So, yeah, definitely have to rethink, you know, how I prepare for Indian Wells/Miami next year”. The world No. 1 is also turning his gaze towards clay, where he’s achieved tremendous success.
“You know, I grew up on clay, so I like playing on clay. Although, you know, statistically hard court was always my most successful surface. “We'll see. I definitely have to play better than I have these couple tournaments”.
Ever the optimist, Novak Djokovic see s a bright future with the NextGen players who are breaking through in the tournaments. “I mean, you already know the names of a couple names like Felix and Denis, as well. I mean, a couple of Canadian young stars that are really bold and courageous on the court and playing some great tennis.
“You know, we're gonna have a shift. Obviously Zverev leads the way of young guys. Don't know who else. I mean, there are a couple of young guys like Hurkacz, the Polish guy. It's great. “We need that. We need new faces in tennis.
I think the tennis future is bright”. Novak Djokovic is scheduled to participate in the first clay tournament of the season, at Monte Carlo. It was during the clay portion of the Tour last year when the reigning Australian Open winner regained his resilient form, setting him up nicely for his first grand slam win (at Wimbledon) after two years, going on to win three more in a row.