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Could this be the end of Novak Djokovic’s reign as the…: Novak Djokovic address his latest shock defeat

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The tennis world is wondering whether we are witnessing the beginning of the end of Novak Djokovic’s reign as the world’s top player after two shock defeats on clay courts this month.

Djokovic suffered a shock defeat in the Srpska Open quarter-finals with a straight sets loss against Dusan Lajovic, in what was his first defeat against a fellow Serbian since Janko Tipsarevic beat him 11 years ago.

Djokovic, who admitted during his pre-tournament press conference that he had been battling an elbow issue, lost 6-4 7-6 at Banja Luka in Bosnia.

For Lajovic, it was only his third career victory against a player in the top five of the world rankings.

It was Djokovic’s third defeat of the season and while he intends to play at the Madrid Open that gets underway next week, it is clear that there are now huge question marks over his hopes of winning a 23rd Grand Slam title at the French Open next month.

Djokovic’s error-strewn performances may be a sign that age is catching up with a player who will tost his 36th birthday next month, yet the man in the eye of this storm has a different response to those questioning his future at the top of the sport.

While Carlos Alcaraz has been installed as the red-hot favourite with odds makers to win the French Open, Djokovic is remaining calm as he suggests his form will return if his elbow problem has time to heal.

After a downbeat press briefing following his defeat against Lorenzo Musetti in Monte Carlo earlier this month, Djokovic was far more upbeat as he reflected on his hopes for a busy summer after his defeat at the Srpska Open.

“I hope to get into tip-top shape for Roland Garros. I want to play my best tennis there,” said Djokovic.
The conditions are totally different there in comparison with Monte Carlo and Banja Luka.

“There are still several weeks to practice and play. In the previous seasons, I’ve always had an unsatisfying and slow start on clay, and then played better tennis in the final stages.

“I hope to repeat the same pattern this year.”
On his latest defeat he added: “Dusan is a fantastic person, great guy, someone that I’ve known for a very long time, since he actually started playing professional tennis.

“We’ve been so many times in the Davis Cup team together, trained together—I’m happy for him, to be honest.

“This is an important win for him, considering the last, probably, 12 months that he’s been through that were not easy for him. He’s playing well and deserved to win.”

The gracious nature of Djokovic’s post-man analysis may have been due to his eagerness to show humble respect to his compatriot Lajovic, yet there must be concern in the camp of the world No 1 as he looks towards the next two big challenges in his effort to seal his position as the greatest player of all-time.

With his great rival Rafael Nadal also struggling with injury after he pulled out of the Madrid event next week, it feels like the end of the era of dominance from the two most prolific Grand Slam champions in tennis history is coming to an end.

Yet writing off serial winners in a fools’ game and until Djokovic is beaten by one of his youthful rivals in a Grand Slam event, he will retain an aura of invincibility that will count for so much over a best-of-five-set match.

Djokovic is giving off the impression he is not panicking over his form and fitness ahead of the French Open and we are a long way from writing off this great champion

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