After Novak Djokovic retired during the second set of his Cincinnati final against Andy Murray last week, he was technically handed only his second defeat of the entire year, taking his 2011 record to a still superhuman 57 victories to just two losses.
Before labelling Djokovic as almost unbeatable at present, we must remember that nobody can play at such a standard he has in every single match over a full season. After he finally lost his first match of the year to Roger Federer at Roland Garros, the Serb had commented that “you do feel a relief when you finish a tournament. If you finish victorious it’s much better than finishing with a loss”. In defeat, it seemed as though not only had a huge burden of pressure and expectation been lifted from his shoulders, after the intense media coverage of his record run; but also that he was in a way glad, due to fatigue, not to have to play another match, even if that match was a French Open final. After his rest, Djokovic went on to claim the Wimbledon trophy and has kept on winning since, making his defeat to Federer seem a mere anomaly. While he’s gotten more used to the pressure and expectation, the fatigue side of things may still come back to hinder his chances of US Open glory.