DOHA: World No.1 Novak Djokovic has now gone three successive tournaments without a title – Paris Masters 1000, ATP Finals and the Qatar Exxonmobil Open.
Fatigue is the common thread running through the losses, starting November last year – against Russian powerhouse Karen Khachanov, 21-year-old German Alexander Zverev and 30-year-old Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.
Not a catastrophe, but certainly cause for concern for team Djokovic as the Serb heads Down Under for the opening Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open .In Friday’s late-evening semifinals at the picture perfect Khalifa International Complex, Djokovic’s challenge, which appeared well on course for a setand-a-half, came apart at the wheels as he crashed to a 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 4-6 loss in 2 hours and 35-minutes.
In the last three days (Wednesday through to Friday), he has spent close to 10 hours on the court, contesting 15 sets (singles and doubles). The 31-year-old, always a slight and super-fast presence on court, looks leaner in 2019, almost raw boned.
“I wasn’t the freshest,” he said, following his last-four loss in which he led Agut by a set and a break. “But this is what I was looking forward to getting from this tournament, as many matches as possible, to get ready for the Australian Open. I missed some easy balls, that’s the result of losing focus in the most important moments.”
Either that or Djokovic, who was fading as the match progressed, lapsed into errors when the Spaniard turned on him what he usually does to opponents – showcasing his best tennis at crucial points of a contest.For Djokovic, this time, the fatigue is both physical and emotional. The World No.1 was part of the singles and doubles draws here, playing alongside younger brother Marko.The Djokovics – Novak and 27-year-old Marko lost in the semifinals to the Belgian-French combine of David Goffin and Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
The Serbian siblings had three matchpoints in the supertiebreak, finally caving in 1-6, 6-3, 13-15.Djokovic later said, “it was one of my toughest losses.” “It was a tough tournament for me, considering the amount of matches I played, both singles and doubles,” the Serb said. “Playing with my brother is a pleasure, but also you care a lot. I care playing with him more than with anybody else, so that’s why it took a lot out of me emotionally. ”