“I was vulnerable so many times in the last few years. And I am still vulnerable. I am not ashamed of it” writes Novak Djokovic in an open letter he posted on his website post his Wimbledon Win. He adds, “After many changes made with training, racket, team members, I didn’t know if I would be able to get back on the desired level of tennis. Actually, one part of me always believes in my own qualities and capabilities. But there was a lot of doubtful moments where course of action could have gone different ways.”
After having held the number 1 spot in the ATP rankings for a total of 223 weeks, Djokovic can, without hesitance, be called one of the best players of all time. However, after having won 12 Grand Slams by 2016, began the time that was referred to as “Djokovic’s decline”. The start of his decline was marked by his early exit from the 2016 Wimbledon. This was his first early exit from a Grand Slam since 2009 and his disappointment was evident. This was followed by an early exit in the Rio Olympics and followed by yet another disappointing loss in the US Open final in 2016.
This was followed by his split with his coach Boris Becker after 3 very successful years together. Soon after, he split with his entire team including his mentor Marian Vajda. This was followed by more Grand Slam woes as his ranking steadily sliding and he reached number 4 from number 1 before he announced that he would not be playing further in 2017. Fans were extremely disappointed and there was speculation as to whether this was the end of his career and whether he would ever play the big leagues successfully again. To say that his comeback in the 2018 Wimbledon was a surprise would be an understatement!
Many thought that Djokovic would not make it past the semi-finals against Rafael Nadal but he once again surprised everyone to prove that he really was back! It was Djokovic who was leading two sets to one when the match was discontinued and picked up the next day, in a contest that lasted 5 hours and 15 minutes 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(9), 3-6, 10-8. With fans sitting at the edge of their seats with bated breath, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that this was the best match of Wimbledon 2018. This was followed by another amazing match with Kevin Anderson who he beat 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (3), to go on to win his fourth Wimbledon title and made his fans immensely proud and hopeful of his comeback.
With his happiness evident on his face, he said, “It feels amazing because for the first time in my life I have someone screaming ‘daddy, daddy’ and it’s a little boy right there. He’s under five years old, so he couldn’t watch the matches live but we hoped if I lifted the trophy he could be there. I’m very emotional and happy for my wife and my whole team. He was by far the best sparring partner I had in the last couple of weeks.”
His happiness at winning the match and the happiness on his son’s face made it clear to everyone that Djokovic was back. Seeming to have recovered from his injury and in good physical as well as mental shape, he seems to be here to stay!
Written by: Nayanika Guha