Novak Djokovic could be struggling to process all the emotional ups and down of the last few years, believes ex-world number one Justine Henin.
After missing out on the recent ‘sunshine swing’ due to his unvaccinated status preventing his entry into the USA, Djokovic returned to action at the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday.
However he slumped to a three-set defeat to Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, with the Serb admitting after the match that he felt unable to cope physically.
However Henin feels the 34-year-old may also be experiencing a psychological hangover from all the stressful scenarios that have hit him since 2020.
“We can’t under-estimate the emotional roller-coaster he [Djokovic] has been on,” Henin told Eurosport France’s ‘DiP Impact’ podcast following the world number one’s defeat in the principality.
“Not just the Australian Open and not just all the effort he made to try and win his 21st Grand Slam at the 2021 US Open either [and which would’ve seen him hold all four majors].
“But you can also go back to the US Open in 2020 when he was disqualified. From there, he then had the tough [final] defeat [to Rafa Nadal] at Roland Garros [in the same year].
“Then he had the abdominal injury and his somewhat miraculous win at the Australian Open in 2021.
“YOU’VE GOT TO IMAGINE WHAT ALL THAT MUST HAVE BEEN LIKE. EVEN IF YOUR NAME IS NOVAK DJOKOVIC, YOU’RE STILL A HUMAN BEING. HE CAN’T HAVE GONE THROUGH ALL THAT CALMLY.
“I’m not saying all this is going to have an impact on the rest of his career, but he’s got to digest and recover from all of that.
“And these are factors that have got to be taken into account when we talk about him now.
“But I think he’s going to recover and we’ll once again sooner or later see the Djokovic of old, so I’m not too worried at this stage.
“But these players aren’t machines either, and even if he showed us that he could deal with so many things and that the more he was in difficulty, the more he could bounce back, how long can he keep doing that?”
Djokovic’s ultimate target will be to peak for the French Open at Roland Garros in May, and with over a month and two Masters tournaments in Madrid and Rome still to come before then, the Serb has time yet to work his way into form.