Novak Djokovic has received public support from a very unfamiliar source following his semifinal exit at the 2024 Australian Open.
Djokovic was beaten for the first time in a semifinal match at Melbourne Park after an unblemished 10-0 record in the past ten semifinal encounters. The Serb was surprisingly subpar in his game in the first two sets of his four-set defeat to eventual champion Jannik Sinner.
Djokovic raised his level in set three, which he won in the tie-break, but it was clear to those watching that he was not operating close to his best level and was broken decisively midway through the fourth set.
The 36-year-old failed to create a single break point chance in the match, in what was an unwanted record he set for himself in a completed Grand Slam match.
In the post-match press conference, Djokovic told reporters that it was one of his worst Grand Slam matches and that he was "shocked" by his own level. Former WTA No. 1 Justine Henin, who worked as a pundit on Eurosport, stated that the Serbian's lack of reaction was a major surprise.
Resilience and ability to fight through adversity have defined Djokovic's aura and legacy. But tennis fans only saw light patches of brilliance in that defeat to Sinner. Djokovic was touted as the overwhelming favorite to win his 25th Grand Slam before the start of the tournament.
As his health began to dictate the way in which he played, several fans began changing the tune, claiming that the Serbian star was finally caving into age and that his movement had deteriorated.
WTA star Caroline Garcia took to X (formerly Twitter) to slam the naysayers, explaining that it was "funny" that people based their assumptions on one bad tournament.
"I was scrolling a bit and basically Djokovic was the GOAT 2 weeks ago, still so young, moving so well beyond of this age, going for an other Slam once again, a true inspiration. And now he is too old, we are in a complete new era, he is finished for tennis … this is funny."