Djokovic succumbed to his first defeat in the semifinal of the Australian Open, which was quite an unusual experience for him, having won each of his previous ten semifinal bouts at the tournament. But all good things must come to an end, and Jannik Sinner played lights-out tennis to dethrone the Serb.
The World No. 1's performance was far from inspiring after losing the first two sets 6-1, 6-2. Although he managed to pinch the third set in a tie-break, he did not have the energy to sustain that momentum in the fourth set, which Sinner won 6-3.
Djokovic's performance shocked many, even Sinner's coach, Darren Cahill, who stated after the match he could sense that the top seed was not at his free-flowing best. The Serbian star did not pull any punches when assessing his own performance, admitting he was "shocked" by his level.
Djokovic failed to create a single break point chance in the whole match, which was the first time in his Grand Slam career (for a completed match) that he set this unwanted record for himself. But despite missing out on vying for a 25th Grand Slam, he left Melbourne with the World No. 1 ranking.
Recently, Caroline Garcia called out Djokovic's haters and critics for changing their perception of the 36-year-old because he was aging and demotivated. And now Garcia's compatriot Patrick Mouratoglou was unhappy with the harsh judgment reserved on Djokovic after losing one match.
"That says it all about the expectations and pressure a player experiences when at the top of the game. They are not allowed to fail otherwise they are labelled « done »."
Instead of dwelling on Djokovic's performance, Mouratoglou opined that Sinner was playing with a lot of confidence gained from beating Djokovic twice at the backend of last season.
The young Italian defeated the Serb at the ATP Finals round-robin stage and the semifinal of the Davis Cup in Malaga, two results that proved key in determining the winner of the semifinal clash last week.
"I think one of the keys is the end of last season, the fact that Sinner beat him two times, and the last time was the most painful because we know how Davis Cup is important for Novak. That is probably the number one explanation for Sinner being able to play such a good match and Djokovic being unable to play that match."