At the start of the year, I predicted that Novak Djokovic will end the season ranked #1 in the world. Injuries have intervened and many people are starting to doubt my relatively bold call.
In his first match in Indian Wells, the Serbian faced Taro Daniel (ranked #109 in the world). Djokovic started the match extremely well but then seemed to disappear physically, something we have not seen for roughly eight years. He racked up a colossal 58 unforced errors in three sets of baseline exchanges.
Djokovic’s loss to Daniel was his lowest ranked loss at a Masters event since Miami 2008, when he lost to Kevin Anderson (#122). The good news is that the problem is his match fitness, which is completely understandable given that this was the Serb’s first match since surgery. His fight was still there and he looked determined to get the win.
Despite all the alarming signs, I think Novak Djokovic will finish 2018 at the top of the world rankings.
Djokovic Will Be Back To His Best By Roland Garros
At the moment, the former World #1 is not match fit or match tough and that is only improved by competing. The clay court season is around the corner and there are plenty of events that Djokovic can enter to start getting matches under his belt.
The 12-time Grand Slam champion’s goal must be to peak for the French Open so maybe he can play with freedom in the upcoming events before taking to the Parisian clay. Once he puts himself in high pressure moments in matches he will remember the sensations he felt when faced in those positions in his prime. The Serb will look to create some serious momentum on the European dirt.
Federer & Nadal Are The Only Threats To #1
There are only four active players who have been ranked #1 in the world on the ATP World Tour, and right now there are only three who have a realistic shot of ending the season with that accolade: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Djokovic. The other players in the top ten are way too inconsistent in the big events which is where you need to produce your best.
Although Federer and Nadal seem head and shoulders above the rest right now, I am not convinced either will hold onto the #1 ranking for the entire year. The Swiss superstar does not play a full schedule and a few early losses at big events could seriously harm his ranking. Nadal has been plagued by injuries for the past five months and I cannot see him playing many events this year. This opens up the door for Novak Djokovic.
Although 2018 has yet to get going for the Serbian gladiator, I have confidence that he will find his best again before the second Grand Slam of the year. There are simple solutions to his current problems and the tennis world should remember what he is capable of doing.
I still think Novak Djokovic will end the year as World #1.