2020 was a unique year for all players, including Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. The number 1 in the world made a splendid start to the season, which saw him lead his Serbia to triumph in the first edition of the ATP Cup before clinching his 17th Grand Slam at the Australian Open.
After the long suspension caused by the global pandemic, Nole's automatisms have jammed, even if the Belgrade veteran still managed to establish himself in Cincinnati and Rome. The disqualification remedied at the US Open for a shot to a line judge remains the most sensational episode of the entire year, while at Roland Garros Djokovic was demolished in the final by Nadal.
Thanks to his 13th victory in the Paris Grand Slam, the 34-year-old Majorcan was able to equal the all-time record of 20 majors of eternal rival Roger Federer. In an interview granted to 'Championat', former Russian tennis player Mikhail Youzhny illustrated how the forced stop of the circuit benefited the Spaniard much more than the Serbian.
Youzhny on Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic
"This incident of his at the US Open happened already in the first set," Mikhail Youzhny said. "This is only the first set, and how painfully he reacted to all this.
What does this show? That Novak Djokovic’s mind was not ready to take it and switch like that (after the resumption of the tour). This is what we are talking about now about the best player in the world, that he had a breakdown at the US Open."
Djokovic was also unusually subdued in the Roland Garros final against Rafael Nadal, and Youzhny asserted the Serb was 'not himself' "Yes, you can say as long as you like that it was an accident, that the ball might not have hit," Youzhny added.
"But I rarely saw Novak throw balls in the first set, whatever the situation. I rarely saw Novak shout at the judge in the first set, as he did in Rome. And certainly, none of us have ever seen Novak in the final of Roland Garros was like this - not himself.
Nadal felt that it would be harmful for him to go to America, and did not go," Youzhny said. "This is what sets Nadal apart from the others. 'Yes, I haven't played in almost half a year, but I want to play well at Roland Garros, so I will miss the Masters 1000 in Cincinnati and the Grand Slam of the US Open.'
I kind of understand it well from the inside, how it happens, and why he made such a decision. And as it turned out, he did the right thing."