Novak needs rhythm early at Wimbledon
Preparation is key ahead of a grand slam, where free-swinging underdogs are hungry to catch top seeds on a bad day.
Stan Wawrinka paid this price, losing his first round match at Wimbledon.
Amid a slump, Novak Djokovic wisely played — and won — Eastbourne last week. This eliminates any feeling of being “rusty” during his opening round matches at Wimbledon.
It also gives Djokovic the rhythm he likes. Martin Klizan and others will try to bring Djokovic forward to disrupt his zen and test his comfort level at the net.
In that case, Djokovic can seize the opportunity to close points. Djokovic was aggressive early in matches during his peak phase ending at the French Open last year. He’s been too passive early this year, and he didn’t fight back well against Dominic Thiem in Paris, losing 0-6 in the final set.
If Novak can build confidence in the first week at Wimbledon, he could begin to feel that he’s “back” into form. He needs to chase away memories of his early round loss to Sam Querrey last year; the match that stole his thunder after winning four slams in a row.
Novak lately has been losing the mental battles he routinely used to win. Given the rich history of Wimbledon, it’s difficult for any player to forget history and focus on the current match at hand. Djokovic could also channel his happy memories of holding up trophies on Centre Court.
The longer he stays in the tournament, the better his chances. The issue is whether he’ll get the time he needs to build rhythm and confidence, and find the higher gear of his best days.