x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Novak Djokovic silences the doubters with Miami success

Perhaps that is where we got off the tracks: comparing the 2012 Djokovic to the otherworldly 2011 version who did not get around to losing a match until the semi-finals at Roland Garros. How, exactly, did we diminish him?

Novak Djokovic triumphed in Miami against Andy Murray.
Novak Djokovic triumphed in Miami against Andy Murray.

A fan might be hard-pressed to find a serious analyst of the game who wrote or said that Novak Djokovicwas on his way to becoming a one-year wonder. But many of us must concede that the notion flitted through our minds.

Well, yes, he did win the Australian Open. There was that. But then he seemed to show the slightest bit of vulnerability.

He lost to Andy Murray0 in the Dubai semi-finals, and to John Isner in the final four at Indian Wells. Those were not Djokovic-style results, at least not in line with our memories of the all-conquering player from 2011.

Perhaps that is where we got off the tracks: comparing the 2012 Djokovic to the otherworldly 2011 version who did not get around to losing a match until the semi-finals at Roland Garros. How, exactly, did we diminish him?

Perhaps we decided he lacked the brute strength of a Rafael Nadal or the staying power of a Roger Federer, and maybe even the hunger of an Andy Murray.

We did not envision him collapsing in a quivering heap, but the idea that he could lose semi-regularly … we considered it.

On Sunday, he beat back Murray without too much trouble to win the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, and now he has won two of the three biggest events so far this year.

He may not have that superhuman aura so easily detected a year ago, but he remains the world's best player. Thus, we probably will wait for more hard evidence to roll in before we deem Djokovic a diminishing force.