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Novak Djokovic’s steep fall from tennis grace

Posted June. 09, 2017 07:08,   

Updated June. 09, 2017 07:22

The sudden fall of Novak Djokovic, who was once called as a "flawless" player, shocked tennis fans. He has been dropped out of the world’s No. 2 in six years.

Djokovic lost to Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals of the French Open on Wednesday following a straight-sets defeat of 0-3 (6-7, 3-6, 0-6). Djokovic’s final set bagle (0-6 third set loss) was the first time in 12 years since his defeat in the first round of the 2005 Australia Open.

He won multiple titles at the four majors from 2015 Wimbledon Championships to 2016 French Open. When he achieved the "Novak Slam," no one expected that his days would be over so soon.

When Djokovic was toppled in the Wimbledon third round last year, people thought that he was suffering from the aftermath after reaching a career milestone as he showed off his undiminished strength by winning the second place in the next U.S. Open. However, Djokovic was knocked out in the second round of the Australian Open and lost in the French Open quarter-finals this year. His fall has now become evident.

The problem is that his backhand, which made him as one of the world’s best players, does not work anymore. Eurosport in charge of airing the French Open 2017 across Europe, said Djokovic failed to follow the ball and unable to create more rotational force to the backhands. Eurosport also reported that about 20 percent of his backhands exceeded 2,000 RPM in the French Open 2016, but the rate decreased to 2 percent in the Australian Open 2017.

Before the French Open, Djokovic announced that he hired Andre Agassi as his new coach, but Agassi left the court in the second week of the Championship. If Djokovic cannot find a brake that would stop his fall, the falling curve may keep getting steeper.

Kyu-In Hwang kini@donga.com