Former world number one Novak Djokovic has been a dominant force in men's tennis in the past couple of years. For the second time after his breakthrough 2011 campaign, Djokovic managed to win three Slams in a single season in 2015. Last year, he won a fifth Australian Open title and his first French Open crown to complete the Career Grand Slam. He has also done something which his rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have not done and that is to hold all four Slams simultaneously. He was the first man since Rod Laver achieved it back in 1969 to be the holder of all four Slams which is a remarkable achievement.
However, since his shocking third round loss to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon last year, it has begun the Serb's downward spiral. Djokovic did reach the final of the US Open and the ATP World Tour finals but he surrendered his world number one ranking to Andy Murray. The 12-time Grand Slam champion revealed that he has been hampered by an ongoing elbow injury. He may need to take a similar break to which Federer and Nadal took in order to get fully fit. Djokovic has turned 30 like Murray and both players who dominated last year are playing second fiddle to the rejuvenated Federer and Nadal.
Djokovic brought Andre Agassi into his coaching team as his coach on a trial period at Roland Garros but after the Serb reached the quarterfinals he kept Agassi as a member of his coaching team and Mario Ancic joined them at Wimbledon.
This midseason review highlights Djokovic's season at the midway point with plenty for the Serbian, who has slipped to four in the rankings to ponder about.
The former world number one has a 30-7 win-loss record which is mediocre for his remarkably high standards. Djokovic has only won two titles in 2017 and both have been at an ATP 250 level event in Doha and Eastbourne respectively. The 30-year-old has failed to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since reaching the final of the US Open last year.
Djokovic began the year in ominous fashion as he won his first title of the year in Doha. He defeated the likes of Jan-Lennard Struff, Horacio Zeballos, Radek Stepanek, saving multiple match points against Fernando Verdasco and he dispatched Andy Murray in the final in a three-set epic. It was setting the tone for the 2017 campaign but it was not meant to be for both players who have endured poor seasons for their standards. Djokovic reached the quarterfinals in Acapulco and in Monte Carlo but he lost to Nick Kyrgios and to David Goffin respectively.
The Serb's clay court season slightly improved as he reached the semifinals in Madrid, where he was the defending champion. However, he suffered his first defeat to Rafael Nadal since the French Open final in 2014. Djokovic effortlessly cruised past the draw in Rome without dropping a set but he lost to Alexander Zverev in his second final of the year. The three-time Wimbledon champion opted to play at a pre warm up event between Roland Garros and Wimbledon for the first time since 2010. He dispatched the likes of Vasek Pospisil, Donald Young, Daniil Medvedev, and Gael Monfils to clinch his first grass court title outside of Wimbledon in Eastbourne.
The reigning Australian Open champion returned to the Australian Open looking for the sixth title in Melbourne. Despite leading by two sets to one in his second round with Denis Istomin. The Serb suffered a shocking exit at the hands of the Uzbek. The former world number one was the three-time defending champion in Indian Wells. However, he suffered his first defeat at the Californian Desert since Juan Martin del Potro defeated him in the semifinals in 2013. Nick Kyrgios defeated him for the second successive tournament in a row. The Serb was the defending champion at the French Open for the first time in his career.
He fell short in three finals previously to Rafael Nadal twice and to Stan Wawrinka in 2015. Furthermore, the Serb defeated the likes of Marcel Granollers and Joao Sousa in the first two rounds. He suffered an almighty scare in the third round against the diminutive Argentine Diego Schwartzman. He recovered from two sets to one down to continue his title defense. Djokovic defeated Albert Ramos Vinolas in the fourth round but he meekly lost his French Open crown to Dominic Thiem in emphatic fashion in the quarterfinals. The Serb's progression through to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon was easy and he did not face a seed en route to the quarterfinals. However, after losing the first set against 2010 runner-up Tomas Berdych, he retired with an arm injury which hampered his progress in the match.
2017 has not been a vintage year for the former world number one but he has managed to win two titles albeit at 250 level in Doha and Eastbourne. Djokovic has not won a Masters 1000 title but he reached the final in Rome for the second year in succession losing to Alexander Zverev. The Serb reached the quarterfinals at the French Open and Wimbledon which are amongst his best results of the year.
Djokovic's most notable early exit was the second round at the Australian Open to Istomin which was in five sets. The fourth round at Indian Wells was the second tournament of the year in which Djokovic failed to reach at least the quarterfinals.
Midseason Grade: C
Last year many people thought that Djokovic could have broken Federer's record of 17 Slam titles at the time when he had 12 Slams. However, Federer has added to his Slam cabinet and the former world number one is seven Slams behind to level Federer. Times have changed in the tennis world, and Federer is more likely to win a Grand Slam than Djokovic at this current moment. Furthermore, Djokovic has managed to beat Federer in best out of five matches most recently in the final of Wimbledon and the US Open a few years ago.
The world number four has been affected by an elbow injury over the past 18 months but he has continued to compete which could have made the damage worse. It remains to be seen if Djokovic is planning to take the rest of the year off in order to heal his elbow or wait until the US Open to compete again. Djokovic has a lot of points to defend and some points to gain but it could be a long while until Djokovic is the world number one again.
It has been a relatively poor season for the Serb and he will be hoping for a stronger second half of the season, and possibly challenge for the US Open title.