By Carole Bouchard*
The Serbian is still on the comeback trail as he arrives in Madrid, and we’re all waiting to see if the Djoker can make it back to the top.
The tennis world is waiting for the Djoker to rise again. It wants to believe it’s a “when” thing and not an “if” thing. Because only last year Novak Djokovic was playing the semi-finals in Madrid, because only two years ago he was winning Roland-Garros for the first time and becoming the first man in 47 years to win the four Grand Slam tournament in a row, on two years. His golden age was just yesterday. In tennis, things change quickly for sure and after two years of struggle between a burn out and a serious right elbow injury, “Nole” is facing one of the toughest challenges of his career. But a champion of his kind doesn’t forget how to play in such a short time, so as the clay season shines again we’re waiting to see if he can too.
Coming back to Madrid for Djokovic is coming back to some crazy memories that could bring out his finest form. It’s this 2009 semi-final lost against Rafael Nadal despite three match points through this four hour blockbuster. It’s the earthquake of his triumph in 2011 against Rafa in the final. It’s his second title in 2016 just weeks before being crowned at the French Open. Everybody that follows tennis can summon those memories. We know our tennis history. And that’s also what is at stake here with Djokovic : a part of tennis history. Novak has met some of his biggest success and biggest heartbreaks on clay, so it’s fair to wait for Madrid wondering what’s going to happen this time. Like the cat he seems to have taken his flexibility from, Djokovic has had several lives on Tour and is currently going through the roughest one.
The 12 times Grand Slam champion isn’t used to losing, isn’t used to injuries, isn’t used to see his confidence shot as it’s been shot lately. To get out of that life and reappear in another, Novak needs first of all a body that cooperates again. Then he needs a revolt. It could be one match, it could be a title. It could be seeing Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, his forever rivals, back on top. It could be seeing the younger rivals thinking it’s their turn to reign. It’ll be a roar after a backhand down the line winner, it’ll be a fist pump, it’ll be an epic 30 shots rallye won after sliding as only he could. There will be something to wake up the warrior. And then Novak Djokovic will be back to be one of the greatest players of all time, one of the game’s greatest showman too. As long as his mind still wants to and as long as his body can still take it, Novak will be back at his place. Will it happen in Madrid?
*Bouchard is a freelance tennis writer who covers the tour around the world.