Novak Djokovic has been the player of the season, winning 37 out of 39 matches and standing alone on four titles. Alongside back-to-back Masters 1000 crowns in Cincinnati and Rome, world no. 1 claimed "only" one Major crown at the beginning of the year in Melbourne, moving closer to Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
Hoping to catch the greatest rivals as soon as possible, Novak was the favorite at the US Open following the coronavirus outbreak, winning the title on the same courts a few weeks earlier and looking good to lift another US Open crown.
Instead of that, Djokovic hit the lineswoman with the ball against Pablo Carreno Busta, experiencing the first default in a career and leaving New York with a bad taste in his mouth. Like a true champion that he is, Novak bounced back in Rome, winning the 36th Major crown to move in front of Rafael Nadal, hoping for more of the same at Roland Garros.
Despite some issues with an injury, Djokovic advanced to his fifth Roland Garros final, facing Rafael Nadal in the quest for the 18th Major title. Competing for the 13th trophy in Paris, Nadal delivered a 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 victory in two hours and 41 minutes, leaving Novak empty-handed and joining Roger Federer on 20 Major crowns, three more than Novak.
Mats Wilander believes those two losses in New York and Paris should hurt Novak's confidence, as he has to find the answer in January at the Australian Open and get back into the GOAT race with Nadal and Federer. In one of the most important matches for both players, the Spaniard produced another remarkable performance on his beloved Court Philippe-Chatrier to leave Novak behind.
Mats Wilander backs Novak Djokovic to raise his level at the Australian Open.
Rafa had to be aggressive and focused against the most formidable opponent, creating perfect tactics and overpowering Djokovic in the opening two sets to gain momentum.
Nadal had 31 winners and 14 unforced errors, performing strongly from both wings and stealing 51% of the return points, more than enough to keep him safe. Novak counted to 52 unforced errors, unable to solve the mystery on the other side of the net and started to challenge Rafa only in the third set.
Nadal lost serve once, and that was never enough for Novak to gain confidence, leaving the return in the locker room and failing to win at least a set. "Of course, it will hurt his confidence after not having won at the US Open and suffering this defeat.
But now he goes into training for the Australian Open, where he becomes a clear favorite; Novak knows that if he wins three Majors next year, which we predict every year will do, he is up at 20. The question is whether he is as emotionally involved as he has been over the last two years. That's the question I'd love to have answered in Australia," Mats Wilander said.