Djokovic ousted by a qualifier

PUZZLING::Djokovic’s performance in the final set against the world No. 109 raised some eyebrows, with Jim Courier saying the Serb had ‘capitulated’


Tue, Mar 13, 2018 - Page 16

Novak Djokovic on Sunday produced a puzzling performance as the former world No. 1 lost to Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel in the second round at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California.

On his return from elbow surgery, Djokovic looked a pale shadow of his former self as he went down 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-1 to make a quick exit from a tournament he has won five times.

“It felt like the first match I have ever played on the tour, very weird,” Djokovic told reporters. “I just completely lost rhythm, everything, struggled a little bit with the health the last couple of weeks.”

Djokovic took six months off after Wimbledon last year and returned in January’s Australian Open, where he lost in the fourth round.

He had surgery in Switzerland shortly after that.

“I was grateful to be out on the court after surgery that quickly, but at the same time just didn’t feel good at all,” he said. “Nerves were there. I made so many unforced errors.”

Djokovic’s performance in the final set against the world No. 109 on Center Court raised some eyebrows, with four-time Grand Slam champion Jim Courier saying the Serb had “capitulated.”

“The question marks surrounding his defeat today will only grow larger,” Courier said.

“We wondered post surgery what it was going to look like, how his elbow was going to react to the strain and stress, but it was his heart and head that didn’t react the right way in this match,” he said. “That is as head scratching as anything you’ll see.”

Reigning champion Roger Federer avoided the same fate as Djokovic, though the Swiss top seed was pushed by left-handed Argentine Federico Delbonis in a match that was completed on Sunday after being halted by rain at 2-2 in the second set the previous day.

The top seed fended off a set point in the tiebreak to beat Delbonis 6-3, 7-6 (8/6).

“It’s been a long time since I have been interrupted at night and have to come back the next day,” Federer said.

“In the nighttime, the ball is much more deader. The surface doesn’t react so much,” he said.

In late action, Croatian second seed Marin Cilic beat Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 7-5, 6-3.

“I was attacking when I had my chances and controlling most of the times the points,” Cilic said. “I didn’t serve too good today, but overall I’m pleased.”