Djokovic Calls It a Season in 2017

Djokovic’s announcement was today and I was happy to hear that he decided to pack it in for the season. Obviously, as a fan, I will miss his tennis but this break is so long overdue that it needs to be this long.

Enough is enough. It is better to do a Federer now and come back in 2018 fresh and 100% healthy. No more unnecessary risks with his all-important health. Health always comes first especially for an athlete because without it, you are on the sidelines.

That is the hard lesson Djokovic had to learn because by not taking a break after he won the personal slam he has pretty much wasted a year on tour and now he has to take an added five months off. His ranking will fall but that is of least importance now.

Djokovic has been in the top 4 for more than 10 years and is the only big 4 member who hasn’t taken an extended break. That in itself is an achievement to stay healthy for that long and play at such a high level for such a long time.

He has earned this break. Apparently, Djokovic had this injury problem since the beginning of 2016 so he was already playing with it for 6 months before he won the French Open. One would have thought after the French Open would have been a good time to call it a day or at the latest after the grass court season but it was the kind of injury he could play with so it was easy to get tempted to play on.

As good as Federer is with scheduling he also played with a bad back in 2013 and as a result, his results suffered.

Health should always come first and Djokovic has learned a tough lesson. The positive thing that came out of this last year on tour was the Agassi partnership which is why I’m pleased to hear Agassi spent more time with Djokovic in Toronto recently and that he will stay Djokovic’s head coach.

I still think that partnership has a lot of potential and I want to at least see what happens with it when Djokovic is healthy and winning titles again.

I think the long break will do Djokovic good and he is capable of doing something similar to what Federer is doing this year. Djokovic is after all 5 years younger than Federer so if Federer can do what he is currently doing then Djokovic has at least the potential to win the calendar slam.

This break will also give Djokovic a chance to work on some things in his tennis that he wasn’t able to work on with the demanding schedule.

Let me know what you think.

Posted in Uncategorized.

22 Comments

  1. Hi Ru-an, I have been lurking on your blog for a while and quite enjoy it. I am a tennis fan above all, and appreciate great tennis matches. So I am not a fan of one sided tournaments or one sided seasons, though I do usually cheer federer in his matches.

    With that context, I find the state of men’s tennis a bit sad right now. A nearly 36-year old won wimbledon without dropping a set. When Novak comes back, it is not beyond reality that he can win a calendar year slam: in his peak year of 2015, he lost 6 times, 3 of those to Federer. Next year, Fed will be 37, and I find it hard to believe he would be able to touch Novak if he plays anywhere near his 2015 level, especially over 5 sets. And there is no other credible challenger at this point.

    It seems that there is no depth to the game any more. Roger became a top 5 player in 2003, and here is in in the top 5. Novak became a top 5 in 2007, and will likely stay there for some time when he comes back. Rafa became a top 5 player in 2005, and will likely be #1 this year. If not him, then Federer will become #1 this year for sure.

    It seems like an exceedingly shallow era where the same 3 people are always favorites for the big titles for more than a decade.

    The only player which could threaten is Alexander Zverev, and he still has a long way to go. His lack of net game was woefully exposed in Halle this year, and with that weakness he has no chance to challenge the big 3. I had hopes for Kyrgios, but it doesn’t seem he can string matches and tournaments together at all. And there are no other names on the horizon who have half a chance of moving tennis forward.

    What do you think is wrong with the way tennis is being taught and developed? Why are there no future stars coming as the current stars get into their mid to late thirties? It seems like this is a unique situation in recent history. There seemed to be a steady stream of future stars which moved the game forward. Ashe/Connors was followed by Borg/Mcenroe, followed by Agassi/Sampras, followed by Federer/Nadal/Novak. Each generation seemed to play better and better tennis: faster, fitter, more varied, more intelligent. But I can’t see that continuing.

    Worst of all, there is no variety: everyone is a baseliner these days even though it doesn’t seem to be working. Look at this series of posts for the stats: https://www.braingametennis.com/roger-federer-exposes-the-biggest-lie-in-tennis-part-35/

    Why don’t we have more diverse playing styles? Why are players allergic to the net? It’s a bit sad, would love to hear your thoughts.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi Apu, I’m glad you enjoy my blog. And I’m not surprised given that you seem knowledgeable about the sport and a real tennis fan. Yes, this is an interesting time in tennis. A lot of it has to do with the big three just being that good but also with the failed generation of Raonic, Dimitrov, Nishikori, and Goffin.

    Great players in their own right but it shows you how good the big three and Murray plus Stan is that these guys haven’t won any slams between them. I don’t think tennis can just keep improving at the rate it has been since the time you mentioned. The fact that Sampras’ records were overtaken so fast was astonishing.

    So it doesn’t really surprise me that things seem to be slowing down after this golden era. I mean if they keep improving at that pace tennis players will soon be supermen flying around the court. It’s kind of like the American generation of Sampras, Agassi, Courier, Chang, Martin, etc that was unbelievably strong and since then it has been a joke in comparison.

    Maybe you can look at it in economic terms where you have a time of steady growth and then a depression or great recession. It seems natural to me that after such an incredible era things will slow down. How can it not?

    But I do think there is potential with Zverev, Thiem, Kyrgios, Khachanov, Rublev, AUGER-ALIASSIME etc. Players also develop later in their career now to their full potential. It’s just how tennis has evolved.

    [Reply]

    Apu Reply:

    Thanks for your reply! I keep my fingers crossed that the next gen realizes their potential. I would especially love to see a strong Kyrgios because his tennis is really fun to watch. His match this year against Federer in Miami was I think the highest level you could get.

    I would also love to see a strong Djokovic again. I kind of wish he was playing at his highest level this year because him vs Fed at Wimbledon / Indian Wells / Miami would have made excellent matches, the sort we would remember for years. Also, him vs Rafa at the french and the other clay masters would also have been instant classics.

    Over 2014/2015/2016, Novak led the h2h with federer 9-6. But in slams it was 4-0 in Novak’s favor. I actually watched them live at Indian Wells in 2015, and it was mesmerizing. Novak was relentlessly retrieving everything, hugging the baseline, and hitting hard and deep. Federer seemed to never have time on his shots.

    I really do think that Federer has turned back the clock on his movement this year, almost to 2007 levels. He just seems to have all the time in the world on both wings. I think that’s why he is much much better in the clutch points this year (vs 2014/2015 where his break point conversion in the latter stages of slams was abysmal).

    So it is a bit of a shame for tennis that this was the year the Novak had a drop in his level. Hopefully they both will be great again next year, but we can’t count on it. Everything can change in a year as we just witnessed.

    But we can always hope!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    YW. I agree about Kyrgios. Exciting game to watch and the match vs Federer in IW was the best of the year. Just a shame about how it ended which may be the reason Kyrgios slumped again. Djokovic vs Fedal matches are always classics. Djokovic vs Federer especially.

    [Reply]

    Kavita Reply:

    Many writers don’t seem to agree with you. How would you respond to the premise of this article which claims that Novak will not have the same amazing comeback as Federer and Nadal and gives some highly interesting reasons to support that point of view. I’d like to know your thoughts on this very interesting article http://us.blastingnews.com/sports/2017/08/can-novak-djokovic-do-a-roger-federer-or-rafael-nadal-upon-his-comeback-001910561.html

    [Reply]

  2. hi Ruan i have been waiting for your blog in response to Novak’s announcement.We all know this has been a much awaited break that we wanted our champ to take.I dont care about his rankings now,as we all know he can come back to the top as soon as he starts winning again.I do agree with the other comment that the next era of tennis is a bit of a worry.Unless the young guns start winning,the next 5 yrs will be a bug question mark for us.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Well, personally I still enjoy the big three era because it is a good dynamic when Djokovic is in the mix. Right now it is boring and the FO and Wimbledon was a bit of a disaster. I think when Djokovic is back in the mix and spanking Federer and Nadal again things will be better. I think Djokovic is far from done, so for me, there is not much to worry about in the near future. I think people are just worried because of how one-sided the FO and Wimby was. But that’s what happens when there is no Djokovic. Just a snore fest basically.

    [Reply]

    Lynsey Adams Reply:

    I’m snoring already, and expect to be doing so for he rest of the season. I wonder if those people who always insisted Novak was a ‘boring robot’ will feel happy now that tournaments are set to be absolutely colourless and utterly predictable with Fedal final after Fedal final.

    I so hope Novak will be able to fully recover and come back as strong as before. Sure, it’s true that maybe physically he should have taken the break earlier, but in a way perhaps it’s better for it to happen now. We’ve seen him look sharper, more motivated and mentally ready recently than he did for a long time when private issues were also really clouding the picture. If he had been forced to take time off then, he just may not have wanted to come back at all. At least now his mind and motivation seem in the right place to do the training and work needed to get back (when he is able to), and he speaks of wanting to play for a long time in the future. Personally I won’t be watching much tennis for the next few months – I didn’t watch for all those years when Fedal were winning everything, and my second favourite (Lopez), after winning Queen’s in great style, was injured the last time I looked. And he doesn’t seem to do much except on grass. So I’ll be looking out for your blog to tell me when and if anything is worth staying awake for!

    Thanks for all the fun and keep on truckin’! :-h

    [Reply]

    GILBERT Reply:

    ENGLISCH

    I hope that Djokovic will win again. Until then I pray for my number 2 Del Potro and Nadal, because it is better if Nadal dominated the scene than Federer. So Novak must attack two but the Swiss would not be completely uninhabitable.

    [Reply]

    GILBERT Reply:

    I do not want to shrink the 23-14 advantage for Nadal against Federer even further.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    No problem! Wimbledon and the FO were terribly boring and predictable. The USO should be more interesting but without Nole Fedal will dominate again.

    [Reply]

    Lynsey Adams Reply:

    Afraid so. 8->

    [Reply]

  3. I think Calendar Slam is a stretch. Not impossible, to be sure, but tit seems like an awfully premature prediction to make right now. A lot of people seem to be treating Federer’s (and Nadal’s, I guess) comeback as the rule now, as if it works for everyone, yet it is very much the exception.

    First step for Novak is getting healthy. I know he says he doesn’t want surgery, but if this is something that can be fixed with it and would otherwise reoccur without it over time I feel like he should have it on the table. The next step is match practice, next year. From there, who knows? I don’t have “Calendar Slam” on the cards right now at all. Honestly, I don’t think anyone should. That hasn’t been done since Laver, to do it after coming back from half a year out would be, well, ridiculous.

    [Reply]

    Gilbert Reply:

    The Calendar Slam is an Illusion. Nothing else.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    ‘I think Calendar Slam is a stretch. Not impossible, to be sure, but tit seems like an awfully premature prediction to make right now’

    Who made that prediction? I need to be careful what I write because people will always interpret it in a way they see fit. Saying Djokovic has the potential to do it is far from making a prediction that he will!

    Djokovic has the potential to win no more slams for the rest of his career. Better?

    [Reply]

    GILBERT Reply:

    I think Djokovic will win a maximum of 3 Slams. Maybe 5 at best. He should concentrate on choosing the French Open and the US OPEN for himself. In Australia and London he proved everything. So it would be possible that he was the only one who won every slam three times. He needs twice Roland Garros and once New York. I could imagine. Other important things would be Cincinatti and Olympia. There I still see possibilities. Once both tournaments. The direct duels with Fedal he must keep in mind and otherwise concentrate on ATP 1000 Masters and the World Finals. If he does all this in the next 5 years we can be quite satisfied. Or not???

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Obviously, I have no clue what will happen for the rest of his career but what I would like to see is at least 1 more FO title for the double career slam but if he can get two more and another USO that would be great too. I agree that he hasn’t won enough USO and FO for his abilities. I also wanna see him pull ahead of Federer in HC slams so he can be recognized as the HC GOAT. So at least one more FO title, and however many HC slam titles it takes to pass Federer.

    I don’t care about Olympics but the Cincy title would be nice to complete the career Masters. Also to continue his dominance over Fedal and more weeks at #1. Some more WTF titles would be nice too.

    [Reply]

    Richard Glasse Reply:

    Keep hoping. But what are you going to do when djokovic retires for good? Tennis is more than novak djokovic.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes, I would know. I’ve been following tennis since 1985. Keep hoping.

    [Reply]

    GILBERT Reply:

    Novak Djokovic is more than Tennis. At least in this millennium. In this the whole world is united.

    [Reply]

    Ryan Reply:

    “Who made that prediction? I need to be careful what I write because people will always interpret it in a way they see fit. Saying Djokovic has the potential to do it is far from making a prediction that he will!”

    Eh, semantics. My point was that a Calendar Slam is such a nigh-on impossible achievement to get that mentioning one has the potential to get it is somewhat premature. Let’s take football as an analogy. When people talk about good teams coming into the season, they say things like “this team can win a league/cup double” etc. They don’t say “this team at least has the potential to win every game in the season”, which in my opinion is comparable to the feat of winning a Calendar Slam. The reasoning being, the latter is looking way too far ahead in terms of what someone can realistically achieve in a year, while the former is pretty much in line with reasonable expectations for good teams.

    “Djokovic has the potential to win no more slams for the rest of his career. Better?”

    Not really. It doesn’t really address what I was attempting to convey, and going towards the opposite side of the spectrum doesn’t make it a more accurate thing to say.

    [Reply]

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