It just keeps getting worse for Novak Djokovic.
The former world no. 1 announced on Facebook Live that he’ll be taking the rest of the year off in order to deal with a nagging elbow injury. Djokovic revealed that he had been nursing the injury for a year and a half, which could explain his recent slump in form.
Apart from his wins at the Qatar Open and Eastbourne International, Djokovic doesn’t have much to show for his 2017 season. Since dropping the no. 1 spot to Andy Murray last year, it’s been a long series of disappointments for the Serbian.
Djokovic had been the picture of health up to now, never missing a Grand Slam during his career, which started all the way back in 2005. After 51 consecutive majors, his absence at the upcoming US Open marks the end of a spectacular run that includes 12 Grand Slam titles and 223 weeks as the top-ranked men’s player.
Nole remains the no. 4 player in the world, a ranking that’s kept afloat by his early success in 2016. But all that will change come December. He’s currently seventh in the yearly rankings and set to sink lower during his time off.
What does the future hold for the 30-year-old Djokovic? Will he return fully recovered and reinvigorated, or will Father Time have the last laugh on the Joker? When he’s back in action, many bettors will take a wait-and-see approach, and it’s not clear what his odds will be in the first of his comeback tournaments. Finding them won’t be hard though — just go to any of our better-reviewed sites, like BetOnline — and they may offer the best value you’ll get on Djokovic all year.
Based on 2017 results, alone, Djokovic is no. 7. By the end of the year, he’ll be lucky to still be in the top ten. Luckily, most of the year’s major competitions (which carry the most rankings points) are already behind us, so there’s only so much ground he can concede.
Djokovic — and the rest of the tennis world — has had a front-row seat to the resurgence of Roger Federer and can learn a lot from the legend. Federer ended his season early in 2016 only to come back and win two Grand Slams this year while playing a reduced schedule. He gave his body the time-off it needed, and his body responded. Being a human, Djokovic should see similar effects from his respite, returning in close-to-top form in 2018. And Djokovic in top form is a favorite for any Grand Slam.
There’s always that small problem of Federer, and a similarly resurgent Rafael Nadal, of course.
Djokovic first picked up the no. 1 ranking in 2011 and spent 223 weeks as the top-ranked player in the world. That includes a whopping 122 consecutive weeks on top before dropping the title to Andy Murray.
By the end of this year, the title will either go to Nadal or Federer. Whether the aging superstars can maintain their place on top is questionable given their lighter schedules. It’s hard to imagine the no. 1 spot going to anyone outside of the Big Four, and with Murray also struggling to find his form, Djokovic has a good shot at marching back to the top spot when he returns.
A speedy recovery could see Djokovic return to the court earlier than expected. Yet, even if he is able to stage an early comeback, there isn’t much left in the season to salvage. This season is more or less a write-off for Nole and he’s better off taking his time to make sure his lingering injuries are completely healed.
Photo credit: Global Panorama (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/]
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