There is something wrong with Novak Djokovic.
Back in June, everything looked fine. The then world No. 1 Serb had defeated rival Andy Murray 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 to pick up that all elusive Roland Garros title, he had completed a career Grand Slam and held all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.
He was on top of the world.
Five months on and things don’t look quite so rosy for the man that has completely dominated men’s tennis for the last five years.
In July, he lost in the third round at Wimbledon to Sam Querrey and then a month later he was beaten in the first round at the Olympics. He did make the final of the final slam of the year in the US, but went down to Stan Wawrinka in four sets.
Now, he has been usurped from the top of the world rankings by Andy Murray after losing last week at the Paris Masters to Marin Cilic – his first loss to Cilic in 15 meetings.
So what has gone wrong?
Considering the slump in form began immediately following his win in Paris, one could put it down to a subconscious easing off following the victory that he had chased so for so long.
The psychological effect of attaining something that had eluded him for more than a decade since turning pro may have temporarily satiated that never-say-die-desire to win that has been a feature of Djokovic’s play throughout his career.
Another explanation could be some kind of problem in his personal life, Djokovic publicly blamed “private issues” following his defeat at Wimbledon which has lead to all kinds of speculation about the state of his marriage to childhood sweetheart Jelena.
But the fact that he won the Rogers Cup title in July and reached the final at Flushing Meadows suggests that whatever that problem was, it had only a temporary effect on his form.
Another more plausible explanation is that years at the top of the game have started to take a physical toll on Djokovic.
It’s never a good sign when players start losing to those they have never lost to before. So the loss to Cilic at the Paris Masters could be an ominous sign for the 29-year old.
It started at around the same age for Rafael Nadal in 2014, while Roger Federer’s slump started in 2010 at the age of 28.
Is Djokovic following in their chalk marks?
With Djokovic’s favourite slam, the Australian Open, just around the corner, we won’t have long to wait to get the answer.