Does Djokovic's loss to Sinner at the Australian Open mean the end of an era?

Djokovic has completed 411 weeks at the top of the ATP, but some analysts think that this is the beginning of the end of one of the best of all time

by Sededin Dedovic
Does Djokovic's loss to Sinner at the Australian Open mean the end of an era?
© Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

Novak Djokovic's recent loss to rising star Jannik Sinner sent a slight shock through world tennis. However, tennis legend Rod Laver believes Djokovic's unmatched mental strength and motivation will help him come back stronger than ever.

Laver, a two-time calendar slam winner, sees the loss as a valuable lesson for one of the best ever. "Novak is an incredible champion. He constantly feeds his mental strength and motivation. It is for this reason and the success he has achieved in his career that I expect him to win every match.

In my opinion, Novak will learn something from this defeat. He will recover and come back stronger and more motivated" Laver said and added: Laver emphasizes the unpredictable nature of tennis, acknowledging that even the greatest champions can face unexpected challenges.

"Tennis can always be unpredictable. There are no sure things. To win all four Grand Slams in one year is one of the rarest honors. It means you have to win 28 matches at the highest level, when everyone wants to win. You have to hope that you will play well, that you will stay in shape and that you will be able to beat all the greatest players more than one".

An inevitable topic was the discussion about the greatest of all time. Laver is certainly a great legend of tennis and a symbol of this sport, but Djokovic is concretely and officially far ahead of all tennis players in history.

However, like many, Laver attributes it to different eras of tennis that cannot be compared because tennis is one of the fastest evolving sports in the world. "I've always said it and I'll say it again now - it's hard to compare different eras in tennis.

Over time, many factors have changed, from materials to physical preparation. Now there are entire teams working for the players. The best thing is to celebrate achievements without any comparisons," concluded Laver.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia talks to the media at a press conference following his semifinal singles match loss against Jannik Sinn© Graham Denholm / Getty Images

Djokovic's future plans after falling out of the Australian Open

Novak Djokovic, who is currently spending time with his family in Spain and Italy, is preparing to return to the Masters court in Indian Wells.

Despite the setback in Australia, Djokovic remains focused on the Grand Slam events and aims to break more records. Confirmation of his participation in Indian Wells and likely presence at the Miami Open will allow him to continue his dominance in the ATP rankings.

Paolo Bertolucci, the representative of the Italians during their first Davis Cup victory almost half a century ago, presented an intriguing hypothesis. He suggests that Indian Wells and Miami will be the real test of whether Novak Djokovic is in decline or if the greatest tennis player of all time will continue his dominance, dismissing critics.

Bertolucci's words are valuable, he certainly has the feeling to notice the decline in quality that he has developed through many years of playing and following tennis. Considering Djokovic's unprecedented reign during this one-month tour in the past, we will see how he will play now after more than five years of not playing this tour because he could not enter the USA due to lack of vaccinations.

He knows this tournament well and he has already won and dominated this tournament. March could offer answers, but there is another dilemma – Djokovic's potential absence from Miami. Although not confirmed, the absence raises questions about his involvement.

Djokovic's official website initially listed Indian Wells as his next tournament, without mentioning Miami. Players automatically appear on the list of potential participants, but withdraw for various reasons. Djokovic significantly skipped the 2023 events due to scheduling conflicts.

Miami may not suit Djokovic because of its proximity to the clay-court Monte Carlo tournament just seven days later. Playing two major tournaments on different surfaces within a week is probably too demanding at this stage of Djokovic's career, two months before turning 37.

The decision may depend on various factors, including his performance in Indian Wells, health and fitness. Ultimately, Djokovic's primary focus is on winning a gold medal at the Olympics, along with the Grand Slams, shaping his competitive calendar around that goal.

Having spent 411 weeks at the top of the ATP list, Djokovic is producing his own record. With 9,855 points, he maintains a comfortable lead over the second-placed Carlos Alcaraz. Djokovic's commitment to focus on Grand Slams for the rest of his career raises questions about his extended layoff, but he remains driven to achieve more milestones.

In an unexpected twist, rumors have surfaced that Milan owner Gary Cardinale is considering hiring Djokovic as a mental coach for the soccer club. That immediately fueled speculation that Djokovic might find a new job and leave tennis after this season.

We will see if that defeat against Sinner in the semi-finals of the Australian Open also means the beginning of the end of an era.

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