2017 AO Stunner: Istomin Defeats Djokovic


 [2] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. [117] Denis Istomin (UZB)

This is the victory of Istomin’s career; however, as stunning as this is, it was inevitable.  I thought as I watched the first set that if Istomin could hold it together mentally and physically,  he could upset the defending champion.  Although he was battling history (he was 0:5 against Djokovic), Djokovic was also battling his own inner demons and did not look comfortable.  Yet having watched Djokovic find a way to win most matches even when not playing well, I thought he would find his game as the match wore on.  Istomin won the first set, but after he lost the next two sets, I went to sleep thinking Djokovic had this in the bag.  I woke up this morning to see that Istomin had pulled off the upset of the tournament. No matter how physically fit Djokovic is, he could not overcome the negative effects of his current mental state and it showed late in the match.  This is more than a lack of confidence, Djokovic is ambivalent.  Istomin is a talented player despite his ranking and today he found a way to suppress his doubts, be patient and play the quality tennis he has always been capable of playing.  He won 7-6(10), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 and claimed his first victory over Djokovic, but more important, resuscitated his belief in his ability.


Has the weight of expectation become too much of a mental burden for Djokovic in his current state?  Perhaps many thought he had shaken off the lethargy that had befallen his game when he defeated Andy Murray at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open earlier this year; however, this loss tells us that something is still definitely amiss.




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