As recently as the start of the month, things couldn't have looked rosier for Novak Djokovic. However, with the US Open approaching, the outlook is now rather bleak for the Serbian star.
This time last month Djokovic was wedding his pregnant, long-term partner Jelena Ristic on the back of his Wimbledon win and subsequent return to the top of the world rankings. The 27-year-old's return to the court hasn't gone to plan though.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga ended an 11-match losing streak against the eight-time Grand Slam champion at the Rogers Cup third round, though you could probably forgive Djokovic as the Frenchman also beat Grigor Dimitrov, Andy Murray and Roger Federer on his way to Canadian glory.
What's unforgivable and unexpected, however, was his defeat yesterday to world no.20 Tommy Robredo in round three, again, at Cincinnati. Both warm-up events saw the Serbian star given a bye to round two, so he has lost as many as he has won on his return.
Robredo's win added more salt in the wounds too, Cincinnati is the only Masters 1000 event he has failed to win. The wait for a clean sweep must continue.
Time against him
Furthermore Djokovic has run out of events to prepare for Flushing Meadows now, meaning he must find some inspiration and form in the next few weeks training with coach Boris Becker.
Despite the tough patch, he remains hopeful of showing his best tennis on the big stage: “Obviously [I] want to peak in New York,” said Djokovic.
“It's disappointing that I had to lose here in my second match, and in Toronto as well. I expected more from myself, but I have to keep on going. A Grand Slam is coming up, and that's where I want to do well.”
Considering the year that Novak Djokovic has had, it seems remarkably how hard he struggles at the moment.
Perhaps a lot of energy was expended in the year's earlier Slams. The French Open was a big one for the world no.1, it's the only major he has failed to win, thanks largely to great rival Rafael Nadal's dominance, the Spaniard broke his heart once more in the Paris final despite a terrific battle.
Djokovic somewhat made up for his French Open nightmare with his second Wimbledon title, but, as always in tennis' golden generation, it wasn't easy. Roger Federer pushed him all the way in a five set thriller.
The man himself certainly isn't sure as to the root of his issues, but he knows something isn't right.
"Just many, many, many things are not clicking these two weeks on hard courts," explained Djokovic. "I'm not feeling very comfortable on the court.
“I’m going to try to analyse the game with what I have done wrong in these couple of weeks," he continued. "And that's why I have a team of people around me: to make sure I'm going in the right direction."
Rivals of the Serb will hope his poor form carries into New York. Questions remain over Nadal's potential involvement, however the likes of Roger Federer and Andy Murray have both experienced success in North America before and will look to reach those highs once more.
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