PARIS (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic’s season reached a new low with a crushing defeat by Dominic Thiem in the French Open quarter-finals on Wednesday and afterwards the Serb admitted he was struggling to find the solution to stop the slide.
The Serb, who turned 30 last month, will drop outside the top two for the first time since march 2011 on Monday -- quite a contrast to a year ago when his domination of men’s tennis was complete after winning the French Open for the first time.
Since then he has bagged only two titles and in grand slam there has been a worrying decline.
After losing to Stan Wawrinka in the U.S. Open final he suffered a second-round defeat at the Australian Open to 117th-ranked Denis Istomin. On Wednesday, with a 32nd grand slam semi-final looming, he fell apart against Thiem, losing 7-6(5) 6-3 6-0.
“You know, it’s obviously tough to get out of it and figure out the way how to move ahead,” Djokovic, who appeared to give up against Thiem in a 20-minute third set, told reporters.
”At least I‘m trying. You know, I‘m trying to get better, trying to be on a high level again.
”For me, it’s a whole new situation that I‘m facing, especially in the last seven, eight months, not winning any tournament, which hasn’t happened in many years.
”All the top players have been through it. So I guess you’ve
got to go through it, learn your lessons and figure out the way. It’s a big challenge, but I‘m up for it.”
Djokovic split with Boris Becker towards the end of last year as his number one ranking was about to disappear.
Last month he then parted company with his long-term coaching team of Marian Vajda, fitness coach Gebhard Phil Gritsch and physio Miljan Amanovic, saying he needed to try and rediscover his spark.
Shortly before setting out to try and defend the French Open he announced that he had got together with eight-time major champion Andre Agassi, although the American was only in Paris for a week and missed Djokovic’s defeat by Thiem.
Djokovic said he hoped his relationship with Agassi, who famously recovered from a slump to win several majors after his 30th birthday, would help him return to form.
“Don’t put Andre in the midst of this. This final set, of course, that’s all me,” Djokovic said.
”As I have mentioned before several times when you guys ask me about his influence and impact on my game, it’s gonna take time.
”It’s not something that comes out in the first week. We have spent seven days together. We just got to know each other.
“Obviously he didn’t want to give me too much information when the tournament started. We will see where it takes us.”
Djokovic’s defeat, his first before the semis in Paris since 2010, was all the more shocking as he beat Austrian sixth seed Thiem 6-1 6-0 in Rome a few weeks ago.
On a windy Court Suzanne Lenglen after Thiem saved two set points in the opener, his game became littered with errors.
“I‘m feeling like I‘m missing consistency. I play a great match or two in a row, and then I play a completely opposite match. That’s what happened today,” said Djokovic.
“Just not feeling it.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Julien Pretot