"I love playing on hard courts. Hard courts have been historically the most successful in my life," Novak Djokovic had said after winning the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship over Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets.
This was before the Coronavirus Pandemic when the season was beginning and every player was super confident and looking forward to good things to come. The ATP Cup Djokovic had won over Rafael Nadal in straight sets was well as the doubles title when he teamed up with Viktor Troicki.
When the Serbian icon won the Australian Open from Dominic Thiem in a 5-set battle he was glad to have come through. "I won the first set, then...after I lost the 2nd set I started to feel really bad on the court; my energy dropped significantly honestly I still don't understand why that has happened...I was on the brink of losing the match..."
he shook his head unbelieving the performance. But soon admitted that "I'm super happy with the way I started the season. It kind of sets the tone for the rest of the year..." he'd say. He's won the Melbourne title 8 times and he was feeling quite good.
Djokovic admittedf that in winning "..your expectations are quite high for the rest of the season...There's always something to work on and there's always more tophies to win..." But now in the fact of the great hiatus that will be six weeks without competition, there will be a huge compromised situation that may affect the common player not in the top 5 in the world but also the Serb.
Working on shots, practice, relaxing are all positive things to get ready for competiion, but when you're not really sure the exact time the event will take place, there may be a lack of stimulation in any player.
The ranking of No. 1 may or may not have anything to dowith practice time. Much of the result is mental and players are not really in the hyper mode that they used to be in pre-virus circumstances. 'When is our next tournament? Will it be hard court or grass? Who will I play?' These are some of the overbearing questions players may have running around in their heads.
Novak Djokovic also won his 5th Dubai Duty title and had a rough time against Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas. "Today against Stef he's one of the best players in the World...I was just fortunate to hold my serve I think at the beginning of the match was really close.
One break of serve decided that first set...: The Serb feels that he went through this test and passed, but will it be as easy missing six weeks of competition? Getting back in the mainstream will be a job, despite the performance level.
It was despte the 21 straight wins in a row, Djokovic still has some thoughts to see what will and can happen. He does know that "Just consistency of the shots from the baseline yesterday, I was one shot away from losing the match.
I was 3 match points down..." These thoughts are scary for the Serb who is carrying a heavy successful tennis resume. But wil he be able to get back to that winning formula and pull out all the strategies to win titles like he did before? Time will tell but for the top ranking players they may have more psychologically to lose than their struggling counterparts who are ranked in the top 30s, 50s or even 100s.
The position for dominance may be in anyone's hands when the season starts up again. Everyone is coming in on the same time mantra of doing the best they can--if they can.