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Novak Djokovic Struggles Continue • Losing Streak Hits Three With Miami Loss To Benoit Paire

Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action against Benoit Paire of France during a second round match at the Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA, 23 March 2018. EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER



By Ricky Dimon


Whatever is ailing Novak Djokovic–and you may need more than two hands to count those ailments–was not cured at the Miami Open.


Just as he did at the Indian Wells Masters, Djokovic crashed out of Miami right away–this time with a brutal 6-3, 6-4 loss to Benoit Paire on Friday afternoon. The former world No. 1 finished with more double-faults (three) than aces (two) and won a mere 53 percent of his first-serve points before exiting in one hour and seven minutes.


Djokovic remained on serve until 3-3 in the opening set, when Paire struck for a break and then earned another scalp of the Serb’s serve at 5-3 to wrap things up. Although Djokovic recovered from an early break deficit in the second, he never entirely snagged momentum in his favor. Paire steadied himself with a clutch hold at 4-4 and broke his opponent at love in the following game to clinch the upset victory in abrupt and relatively unceremonious fashion.


“I mean, I’m trying but it’s not working,” Djokovic lamented. “That’s all. That’s all it is. “Obviously I’m not feeling great when I’m playing this way. Of course I want to be able to play as well as I want to play; just it’s impossible at the moment.


“I felt I started the match well, first six games, then I just ran out of gas…. I’m not at the level that I used to be. I’m aware of that. I just have to obviously believe in myself and hopefully it will come.”


All that’s coming right now is historically bad results. The 12-time Grand Slam champion has now lost three matches in a row dating back to the fourth round of the Australian Open, where he succumbed to Hyeon Chung. Djokovic then fell to Taro Daniel at the BNP Paribas Open. Friday’s loss marked the 30-year-old’s first in Miami since 2013, where he captured three consecutive titles before not playing in 2017.


“I wanted to come to Indian Wells and Miami because I wanted to see whether I [could] play a match,” Djokovic explained. “I love playing on the hard court. I wanted to get a couple tournaments before the clay court season starts. I obviously wasn’t ready.


“I don’t know what to expect,” he added after being asked if he anticipates a return to his peak form sometime in the future. “I’m not expecting anything…. Obviously I’m facing myself with various challenges in my game, health. I’m trying to figure things out and see what happens.”


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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