Tuesday 20 February 2018

Novak Djokovic was bagelled for the first time in a Grand Slam since 2005

The 2016 winner of the tournament has gone a year without winning a Grand Slam.

By Max McLean

Widely regarded as the greatest tennis player of the decade, 12-time Grand Slam-winner Novak Djokovic’s loss to Dominic Thiem at the French Open came in shocking fashion.

The 30-year-old was defeated 7-6 6-3 6-0 by the 23-year-old Austrian, losing a set to love for the first time in a Grand Slam since the 2005 US Open, when he was 18.

The defeat on its own was not the most surprising thing – Roland Garros has represented the Serbian’s least successful Grand Slam tournament – but the manner of it was unexpected.

After a gruelling first set which Thiem won 7-6 in 73 minutes, Djokovic lost the third in just 20, winning only eight points.

Eurosport commentator John McEnroe accused Djokovic of tanking, adding: “It’s almost as if you can’t believe what you’re watching, and in a match of this magnitude.”

The result is that the man who beat Andy Murray in the 2016 French Open final will drop out of the top two in the world for the first time in almost six years.

“I don’t expect myself to play as bad as I played in the third,” said Djokovic after the defeat. “I don’t visualise that ever.

“It was decided I think in the first set. I tried. I lost that crucial break in the beginning of the second, and he started serving better, backing it up with the first shot. He was definitely the better player on the court.”

The result is also the first straight sets defeat the Serbian has endured since the 2013 Wimbledon final against Andy Murray, while this time last year he had just become the first man since 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.

Djokovic is known as one of the best returners in tennis, but of course, anyone can have a bad day.

Press Association

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