Reasons behind Djokovic debacle in Rio are many and the world number one simply couldn’t deliver what it was expected from him this time.
Novak Djokovic came to Rio de Janeiro to complete his “Golden Slam”, there is no doubt about it. Casual tennis fans, especially in Serbia, expected nothing less than a gold medal in singles from him, having in mind that numerous top 10 players decided not to participate on the Olympic Games, so the entry list on this tournament was weaker than in the most ATP Masters tournaments.
However, Juan Martin Del Potro shocked Djokovic in the first round and defeated him once again on Olympic games – four years ago it was Del Potro again who defeated Djokovic in a bronze medal match.
Del Potro played a really good match and reminded tennis fans all over the world how he dominated the court with his amazing forehand six and seven years ago, when he regularly beat “The Big Four” and won his only Grand Slam trophy on US Open. If he wasn’t injury prone, tennis would probably be much different in the past two years.
Unchallenged by competition, Djokovic could play without maximum effort and power in the first rounds of all tournaments, save his strength for the last two or three matches and dominate the world of tennis in the last 18 months. However, on Wimbledon and in Rio he got eliminated by the type of player which always made his life harder, when they are in form – big hitters and servers. Although Djokovic is one of the best returners and counter hitters of all time, he simply didn’t have strength to match Querrey’s and Del Potro’s power in those matches.
The second reason behind the debacle in Rio is a niggling pain Djokovic has in his shoulder and wrist. After he was accused of withdrawing from all matches he can’t win, Djokovic has often resorted to playing through the pain and even risk making the injury worse and he often wins in those matches. Del Potro was too good for him this time, but it was clear that Djokovic wasn’t 100% ready for the tournament.
We should also have in mind that Djokovic is 29 now, so his decline, especially regarding his presence on court, can start soon, or it is already on its slow start. Hard hitters were always the issue, so he shouldn’t be bashed for losing against a player such as Juan Martin Del Potro.
After elimination in double competition, Djokovic will probably leave Rio and focus on the US Open series. However, he announced that he will not play in Cincinnati, the only ATP Masters 1000 tournament he has yet to win in his career, so his injury problems are maybe more serious than everybody thought.