Top 5: Unexpected Djokovic losses

Published 04/14/2016, 9:31 AM EDT
Image Credits: www.eurosport.co.uk

It is not the first time that Novak has been defeated when all odds were favouring him. Let’s take a look at five such instances when Novak was unexpectedly defeated.

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  1. 2012 US Open Final (against Andy Murray)

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This match is considered to be one of the best of the Murray- Djokovic rivalry. Murray had lost his first four grand slam finals and many expected it to be his 5th loss in a row. The match started on a high note with the first set containing long gruesome rallies between the  two. It was a 54 shot rally and the set went to a tiebreak in which Murray prevailed12-10The tiebreak was the longest in a Grand Slam final lasting 24 minutes, with the set being 87 minutes. In the next set, Murray took a 4-0 lead. Though Djokovic clawed back to 5-5, Murray would eventually seal the set 7-5. Djokovic took the third and fourth sets comfortably 6-2 and 6-3 and it looked like the Serb was going to pull out his 9th successive 5 set victory. However, Murray slammed the breaks to win the fifth set 6-2 and became the first man from Britain to win a grand slam since Fred Perry in 1936. The match lasted 4hr and 54 min and was characterized by a very high level of physicality.

So why did Djokovic lose this match ?

The best answer to this question is probably fatigue. Djokovic had played the men’s semifinal against Ferrer on Saturday and probably didn’t have much in the tank left for the 5th set.

This is what Djokovic commented on his defeat.

Well, any loss is a bad loss. There is no question about it,” Djokovic said. “I’m disappointed to lose the match, but in the back of my mind I knew that I gave it all. I really, really tried to fight my way back.”

  1. 2011 French Open SF (against Roger Federer)

Roger Federer defeating Novak Djokovic may not surprise many, but, the fact is Djokovic came into the match with a 43 match win streak and hadn’t lost a match in over 6 months. Novak was the hands-down favorite for this match and Federer’s lack of form and his vulnerability on clay added to the expectation that this was going to be a one-sided match. Federer came out to play the match as if he had nothing to lose. The match saw a generally calm Federer turned into a raging one. He took the first set 7-6 and the second 6-3. The Djokovic camp was obviously distraught and Nole’s Father left his box in disappointment. Novak won the third set and served to take it into the fourth set, but, Federer roared back to break and take the set 7-5 in the tiebreak. The match looked like a final even though it was a Semi-Final and even though Federer lost the final, he obviously made a statement by defeating Novak.

Why did Novak lose the match?

First things First, Roger was serving very well in this match. He served an incredible 18 aces (on clay that is a very big number) and when Roger is on a serving spree it is difficult to unsettle him as he rolls through his gas in under a minute. The second thing is that Novak hadn’t played a match in 4 days which probably added to a lack of match practice which hurt him badly in the first two sets.

This is what Djokovic commented on his defeat.

“These were the best months of my life, an incredible period. It had to end sometime. Unfortunately, it came in a bad moment. What happened, happened. I can’t affect it anymore.”

  1.   2014 Australian Open QF (Stan Wawrinka)
Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka (R) shakes hands as he celebrates after victory in his men’s singles match against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic (L) on day nine at the 2014 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 21, 2014. IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE AFP PHOTO / GREG WOOD (Photo credit should read GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

This match was arguably the best match of 2014. Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic had played an epic in US open 2013 but Wawrinka’s last win on Nole had come way back in 2006. A wise man would surely have put his money on Djokovic for this one. And after the first set it looked like the writings were on the way for Stan as Djokovic steamrolled through it 6-2. But as they say even small changes can make large differences: that was to be for Wawrinka as a backhand winner down the line at 3-3 deuce ignited a flame in him that led him to 2014 Australian Open crown. He took the second and third sets comfortably but Nole still wasn’t finished. He took the fourth set 6-3 and it looked like Nole was again going to pull through this match like he always does. Djokovic Broke early in the 5th set but he committed four unforced errors in the game to bring Wawrinka back into the match.Wawrinka would win the 5th set 9-7 to seal off an epic for the ages.

Why Djokovic lost the match?

Firstly, Nole played bad on the big points.If we look at the total points won for the match Djokovic won 160 compared to 153 for Wawrinka. Secondly, Nole committed uncharacteristic unforced errors which were largely caused by the speed of Wawrinka Backhand. And finally, Nole had just hired the 6 time grand slam champ Boris Becker who had a completely different outlook on the game to which Novak was accustomed to. This probably led to Novak trying to shorten the points leading him to more unforced errors. He even tried a serve and volley on the match point.

Djokovic’s comments on the match:

“This time, it was him that had luck a little bit on 30-all, this mis-hit return, but this is the sport. He showed his mental strength and he deserved to win.”

  1. 2014 US open SF (Kei Nishikori)

Nishikori was not certain to play in this tournament. Earlier that year he had a surgery to remove a cyst and he hadn’t played a warm-up tournament. He came into the semifinals with good form. Yet he came up against the world no.1 and many thought that Andy Murray would have been a better matchup for Djokovic in the semis. Kei was the underdog and the New York crowd loves underdogs. Under scorching heat with temperatures at record highs Nishikori defeated Djokovic 6-4 1-6 7-6 6-3 to become the first Asian man to reach the finals of a grand slam.

Why Djokovic lost the match?

Nishikori was taking the ball early and since the sun was out and it was a warm day, the faster conditions helped the Japanese to generate the extra speed on the court which made the difference.The second thing is that Nole couldn’t take the advantage of the Nishikoris second serve which averaged at just 138kmph .He was able to win just 50% of those second serve points of Nishikoris serve.

Djokovic on the match:

“I just wasn’t managing to go through the ball in the court. I wasn’t in the balance. There were a lot of unforced errors [35]. Even when the ball gets back to his part of the court it’s pretty short; he takes advantage of it. On the other side I didn’t.”

1 . 2015 Roland Garros Final (Stan Wawrinka)

PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 07: Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland is congratulated by Novak Djokovic of Serbia after victory in their Men’s Singles Final on day fifteen of the 2015 French Open at Roland Garros on June 7, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic was supposed to complete his career grand slam in 2015. That was his goal when he was asked by reporters as to what he wanted the most in 2015. He looked well on his way  having defeated Rafael Nadal for only the second time in the history of the tournament in straight sets. But, that was until the Stanimal was unleashed. Wawrinka played the match of 2015 to capture his second grand slam title and to leave Novak in tatters. Stan lost the first set despite serving really well largely due to the fact that his backhand was misfiring. However, it was that backhand that completely changed the matchup from the second set as Wawrinka was hitting winners from almost anywhere. Djokovic seemed rattled and started to play drop shorts and approach the net. He tried to be more aggressive but Stan still had enough time to unleash monstrous forehands and backhands. Fittingly, he won the match with a backhand down the line from a meter behind the baseline.

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Why Djokovic lost the match?

The primary reason was pressure. Having defeated Rafael Nadal in the quarters, almost everyone expected it to be a cakewalk for Djokovic. But, the pressure of achieving a career Grand Slam surely got to the Serb as he committed 41 unforced errors throughout the match.The other reason was that Stan was too good. He served a high percentage of serves, returned well and hit an astounding 60 winners. The third thing was that Novak was sprobably too tired after playing a marathon 5 setter against Murray in the Semifinals.

Djokovic on the match:

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“In life some things are more important than victories: character and respect. “I have a great respect for you, Stan.”

 

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Chaitanya Batra

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