It was the middle of the season when Novak Djokovic re-invented himself and started putting together wins one match at a time again. He experienced a build-up of confidence with every victory and went on a rampage after coming off injury and surgery.
But he couldn't deny that failure will come and says "It's not great to lose a tennis match especially in the finals...I'm quite disappointed with my game, but I'm happy that he won", he had said referring to his loss to Alexander Zverev in straight sets at the Nitto ATP Finals.
Among all the players participating in the event, the Serbian might have felt the most confident taking into consideration how far he had come with ailments and time off the court during the year. It was in February that he no longer could take the pain and had elbow surgery.
He rehabbed and practised diligently entering the grass season in July. Djokovic was up against big Kevin Anderson, the South African who himself was on a roll by defeating Pablo Carreno Busta and Borna Coric at Indian Wells.
He was anxious but apprehensive to try playing at Roland Garros to test his elbow's stability. He did well and even move through to the quarterfinals where he fell to Marco Cecchinato. Anderson's test would come with playing Djokovic at the final.
It would also be a test for Djokovic to see how he recuperated from elbow surgery. But it was a no-brainer as the Serbian dissected Big Anderson's game in 2-hours and 19-minutes to hold the Wimbledon trophy. "The way the ball was coming off my racquet...my ball striking wasn't where it needed to be to compete with somebody like Novak", Anderson said disgustedly.
Djokovic didn't stop blasting out his talents on grass but moved onto the hard court season in Cincinnati where the Serbian beat the iconic Roger Federer for the title in straight sets. Then along came the Shanghai Rolex Masters where he defeated Borna Coric in straight sets for the title.
He was overjoyed to know that he won and that he could create victories again. The real test was the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, a round robin of tension-filled, spectacular rallies where Djokovic never lost a set and was filled with self-assurance and confidence that he had a good shot at the Nitto title.
He had to admit that his health was still in question because of aches from prolonged and constant playing and had said that "Healthwise I haven't been perfect in the last 3 or 4 weeks. I'm finishing the year at no.1, so that was the goal".
But his last opponent was Alexander Zverev who had disposed of Roger Federer and intended to do the same to Djokovic. "I knew that he's gonna change something, he's gonna play better and he did and I just played under par, compared to all the matches I had this week", Djokovic explained.
Zverev played superbly far better than when he played at the round robin and it surprised the Serbian, giving him false hope that he may have this title in the bag, but didn't. He lost 4-6, 3-6. Djokovic might have taken the young German's play for granted or either his own previous performances.
The Serbian explained the quality of Zverev's play saying "He had big serves, I wasn't returning well. I wasn't making his move too much...making way too many unforced errors...my game really fell apart but credit to him", he emphasized.
So it seems as if Novak Djokovic, appearing a bit dejected and somewhat vulnerable knowing players might think he'll be an easier target to defeat now that Zverev did. He knows it was a long and bumpy road to accomplish what he did now and admits that "I always believe in myself.
I kind of expect myself to do very well..." It didn't go well that time but there will be other chances soon in the new season and as the number one player in the world, he knows to hold his head high and continue playing tough tennis as he previously did and can really do now.