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Is Novak Djokovic Back?

Any enthusiastic tennis fan knows that Novak Djokovic is one of the best. He is up there with some of the greats, such as Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, and Rod Laver. He is nearing one thousand career wins and has thirteen current Grand Slam titles under his belt, not accounting for the other titles he won on the ATP Tour.

He’s also the only player to acquire all nine of the Masters 1000s titles, something that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have yet to achieve. In 2011, he went on a forty-one-match winning streak, second only to John McEnroe, who beat him by one extra match (forty-two).

That being said, it’s easy to consider Novak Djokovic one of the best. After all, whenever he was playing his best tennis, he could easily return Roger Federer’s serve and out-rally Rafael Nadal, feats that players dream of doing.

However, it’s also easy to remember that Novak Djokovic had one of the hardest fall-offs in tennis history alongside Andy Murray. Novak Djokovic suffered an elbow injury early into the 2017 season, forcing him to miss out on every tournament that happened after Wimbledon. Even then, he wasn’t playing to his best potential. He lost in the second round of the 2017 Australian Open to Denis Istomin, who wasn’t even ranked in the top one hundred at the time and would later go on to lose to Nick Kyrgios in Indian Wells.

No one thought he would come back so strong. Despite a shaky start in 2018 after losing to Hyeon Chung in the Australian Open followed by a series of upsets, he’s been showing promise in more ways than one.

He managed to make it to the finals of the Fever-Tree Championships and won Wimbledon about two weeks later. He would also go on to win the Western & Southern Open, becoming the first man to win all nine Masters 1000s titles.

So, the question comes down to this: is Novak Djokovic back? He’s obviously been showing it, and his past few tournaments have gone extremely well for him. If he is back, I can guarantee one thing: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal better make sure to keep an eye over their shoulder because Novak Djokovic is going to return to be the threat he once was.

Why Was Novak Djokovic So Good?

Novak Djokovic was, in a sense, a human wall. In tennis, when someone calls you a wall, that’s an infamous term because it means you can get literally any shot back, and that’s exactly what Novak Djokovic did.

It didn’t matter if it was a near-impossible overhead or a medium-passed cross-court shot to his forehand, Novak Djokovic knew how to handle it all, and that’s what made him so good.

Occasionally, however, he wasn’t afraid to mix something into the bucket. For example, he wasn’t afraid to randomly rip a winner backhand down the line if he was feeling it or go for an ace on his serve if he wanted to end the point.

Novak Djokovic also came up clutch on the big points that really mattered. He was notorious for his long rallies that occurred when it was 30-30, and he was down 4-5 in the fifth set of some Grand Slam match. No matter what happened, Novak Djokovic would always make sure to get the ball back.

That’s what made him such a threat to Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. You have to remember that Novak Djokovic’s legacy started when Roger Federer began to switch playstyles due to his age. Now, if peak Novak Djokovic went against peak Roger Federer, that would be a whole different story. The same goes for Rafael Nadal.

However, that doesn’t mean Novak Djokovic isn’t one of the biggest threats Roger has ever faced when it comes to playing him. Roger Federer switched his playstyle, becoming more serve-oriented and finishing the points at the net as he began to age, and naturally, Novak Djokovic is one of the best returners on the ATP Tour right now, so Novak Djokovic naturally counters Federer’s serve.

Combine that with the fact that Novak Djokovic’s grind-like playstyle can keep Federer from coming to the net as much as he likes, and you have the perfect candidate when it comes to taking down Roger Federer, and that’s exactly what he did.

In 2016 alone, Djokovic kept Federer from winning Indian Wells and Rome, two of the most sought-after Masters 1000 titles in the world. He also kept Roger from winning Wimbledon, the Grand Slam which the maestro himself was famous for winning so many times beforehand, and a few months later, Djokovic also prevented him from winning the Nitto ATP Finals as the perfect cherry on top to Djokovic’s season versus Federer.

Therefore, it’s safe to say that Djokovic has definitely been a roadblock in the past for Roger Federer, and it was all due to his play. The only player who could possibly run faster than Novak Djokovic in pressure-point scenarios is Rafael Nadal, and when he’s in his zone, there are very few players who can out-rally Djokovic himself. This is the skillset which can help him come back in 2018 and topple the competition if he really applies it like he did when he ruled the ATP World Tour.

A Shot at Redemption

As I’ve mentioned before, Novak Djokovic found himself in a hole between the early stages of the 2017 season and the middle half of the 2018 season. Largely due to an elbow injury and a few smaller injuries here and there, he was unable to play to his full potential, skipping out on the 2017 US Open and the tournaments preceding and succeeding it.

Furthermore, he also faced difficulty in playing the best tennis he could during the first half of the 2018 season. It wasn’t until the clay season rolled around that Novak Djokovic started to show any signs of improvement.

But what exactly did he do that brought him back into the spotlight? What did he do that made him go from struggling to survive to thriving on the court? What did Novak Djokovic do that gave him another shot at redemption?

Reunited with His Old Coach

Every professional player on the tour has to give some credit to their coaches for their success. Without Stefan Edberg, Roger Federer wouldn’t have the serves and the volleys he possesses today, and without Toni Nadal, for all we know, Rafael Nadal might not even be on the tour right now.

The most common face you might think of for Novak Djokovic when it comes to coaching is probably Boris Becker, and while he did bring several key pieces to Djokovic’s game, it’s another coach that actually molded Novak into who he is today.

Marian Vajda, a former Slovak tennis player, has been by Djokovic’s side since 2006 and was there through the ups and downs. He was there when Djokovic was just starting to make an appearance in the major tournaments, and he taught Djokovic most of what he does today on the scene.

The reason you don’t hear much of him is because Marian Vajda was dismissed in 2013 from Novak’s team and replaced by Boris Becker, and Novak’s golden era began. Boris Becker was the one that coached Novak Djokovic through his golden age of 2014-2016 where he literally dominated every single tournament.

However, at the same time, Boris Becker was there when Djokovic fell and couldn’t get back up, and when Boris Becker was dismissed from the team, Andre Agassi came onto the scene as what seemed to be the perfect solution. After all, both Andre Agassi and Novak Djokovic were regarded as some of the best returners in tennis history. On paper, it seemed like they would be the perfect fit and Agassi would help rebuild Novak’s legacy, but instead, it only rubbed more salt on the wound.

It wasn’t until Novak re-hired Marian Vajda that Novak began to regain his foothold and play to the level he once played at when he was at his best. By hiring Marian back, Novak single-handedly fixed the problem he fought against for the past two seasons.

Slowly, he rebuilt his confidence and found familiarity in his old gameplay. This can all be attributed to Marian Vajda, the “OG” tennis coach for Novak, and if he sticks with Marian, he’s going to find that he’s going to go far in these next few years.

Vintage Novak

Vintage Novak is a type of playstyle that reflects back on his olden days when he ran down everything and out-rallied everyone. In the early years of 2018, Novak Djokovic tried to switch it up first by changing his serve swing, and second, by adopting new playstyles into his arsenal.

However, both things backfired. Instead of improving his service points, his new serve actually decreased his service point win percentage, and his new playstyle actually resulted in him playing more conservatively rather than ruling the point through his heavy baseline rallies.

Therefore, by going back to vintage Novak, Novak Djokovic was able to drastically increase his win percentage because he went back to playing his old style which was getting everything back and making sure that he, not his opponents, ruled the baseline.

This is the exact style that made him one of the greats and allowed him to beat names such as Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and Rafael Nadal. Because he’s re-adapted this playstyle, it’s very possible that soon, Roger Federer could find a new threat in Djokovic once again.


By the looks of it, Novak Djokovic is back on the field without any physical restraint, and this is a good thing because the injuries were what kept Novak from playing to the full potential that he could have beforehand.

Before the 2017 season, Novak Djokovic was complaining about small injuries, with one of the major recurring ones being the elbow. Finally, it all caught up to him when in 2017, he was forced to pull out of the Wimbledon quarterfinal to rest and recuperate.

With so much time off the court, Novak quickly lost the groove he once had, and Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer went back to contesting for the throne. It was no longer Novak versus Rafael versus Roger. It was now Rafael versus Roger, and it stayed like that, even after he re-entered the scene.

After coming back for the 2018 season, Novak Djokovic quickly found that he couldn’t play to the level he wanted to, losing to players he would’ve beaten without a sweat two years ago. A large part of this was due to conflict of interest between Novak and his new coach at the time, Andre Agassi. Andre Agassi wanted Novak Djokovic to keep healing his arm and recuperate any other injuries before returning to the battlefield, but Novak decided to go through with it before taking off another month following the 2018 Australian Open.

It wasn’t until he was finally confident that he was injury-free that he began to play yet again, and he quickly found that his results were improving. He wasn’t losing in the first or second round anymore. He was consistently making it to the Round of 16 or the Quarterfinals, and occasionally, he would do even better than that.

Him being injury-free has been one of the most important aspects of his game. Every player takes a physical beating when they step onto that court. It’s just how professional tennis works. The toll of the game eventually wears down your muscles and your bones, and if you’re not careful enough, it could lead to injuries.

For Novak Djokovic in particular, having an injury is unacceptable because his game won’t allow it. He’s used to sprinting and sliding while outlasting opponents after twenty-shot rallies. Novak is used to four-hour-long matches on a daily basis, but when an injury comes into play, then that’s just unacceptable.

Now, with Novak Djokovic being injury-free, he can focus on what’s really important and the more technical parts of the game. He doesn’t have to worry about an injury that could potentially sit him out for another year. Because of this, he can focus on one major goal: to become the best in the world again.

So, What’s Next?

Currently, Novak Djokovic is in the US Open, and it looks like he’s trying to add another trophy to the collection. So far, there’s been nothing stopping him, and he’s dropped very few sets along his journey to the Quarterfinals.

Of course, there are tougher opponents awaiting him the farther he goes into the draw, so that means Novak Djokovic is going to have to play at his very best if he wants any shot at winning another US Open.

Afterwards, it’s probably going to be the Nitto ATP Finals for him with a few ATP tournaments and Masters 1000s scattered along the way. Since his elbow injury, Novak has been dropping in ranking, and that hasn’t been good for the Serb.

He’s climbing back right now at a faster pace than before, but if he wants to look to solidify the number-one spot from Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, or even Juan Martin del Potro, he’s going to have to do well at every single tournament he plays, including the US Open. Simply put, failure is not an option for the man.


Hate him or love him, you cannot deny that Novak Djokovic has left a lasting imprint on the game of tennis. He’s one of the few players to win more than ten Grand Slam titles, and in 2011, he defeated both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal a total of ten times — sometimes on their home surface — dropping only one match to them in that year.

He’s also one of five players to hold a Career Grand Slam in the history of tennis and one of three players to reach all four Grand Slam finals in a calendar year. These are achievements that only the best will earn, and Djokovic is one of the few to receive this privilege.

He may have fallen off during the 2017-2018 season, but there’s no doubt that he’s back in the game, and he’s playing better than ever. He’s already won a Wimbledon title for the 2018 season and took down Federer in straight sets to win the Western & Southern Open. If he keeps this up, there’s no telling what’s in store for the future.

Novak Djokovic isn’t going to be retiring anytime soon. He still has a few years left in him to play the game that he and millions of others love so much. While some of the greats may be nearing the end of their career, Novak is just getting started.

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