Analysis:Djokovic's game becoming very passive

FreeBird

Legend
Novak lost today but I am not losing my faith.

But there are certain areas of Djokovic's game at present which are needed to be discussed.

1. Djokovic's BH: It seems like Djokovic's BH is no more a weapon. I can see at least 5 Top 10 players having better BH than him at present. He just can't hit winners with it. Rather he just pushes the ball to the opposite court.

2. Djokovic's FH: Sometimes, he hits with a puffy FH with a lot of topspin waiting for opponents' error (especially against Fed and Wawa) resulting in opponents dominating the rallies and deciding the fate of points. While other times he flattens it out (against Nadal and Ferrer).

3. Djokovic's net game: Pretty inconsistent. At crunch moments, it misfires. Approach shot selection not good. Approach shots are not flat and have a lot of margins giving opponent a lot of time for passing shot or lob.

4. Return Game: Again deserting him at crunch moments.

5. Slice: LOLworthy.

Overall, Djokovic is too reluctant to go for his shots and has started relying upon opponents' errors and his stamina to outlast players irrespective of whether balls are there to be hit for winners.

In his match against Wawarinka, Wawarinka was giving him many short balls to hit for a winner. Rather, he was interested in changing the direction of the ball and waiting for his errors.

He did not learn from his mistakes against Wawarinka at USO 13 and Fed at WTF and Paris and is relying too much on opponent's errors by playing pusher tennis.
All aggressiveness is AWOL atm. Only against Nadal, he is playing aggressive. At USO, he just kept balls in play against Wawarinka but suddenly went into basher mode against Nadal. It was quite obvious that this sudden flip will cause him to miss more on his ground strokes and resulted in tons of UEs
 
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Chanwan

G.O.A.T.
Are you basing this on his 28 match winning streak or today's loss or both? Please specify the period of time you're talking about. Cause he looked pretty solid to me for most of the time up until today's match.
 
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Nathaniel_Near

Guest
I certainly agree with everything you wrote regarding this particular event.

Like I said several times the other day in a live match thread, there was something missing from Djokovic's game, with passivity being one of the things mentioned.

Personally, he also seemed a tad slower to me than usual...

Also, the things you said all pertain rather much also to the last WTFinals and possibly also before, despite him winning it.
 

papertank

Hall of Fame
Have you watched Djokovic at all recently besides the Wawrinka match? In yesterday's match, he definitely could have played a bit more aggressively, but he still played pretty solid and the win was all due to how well Stan played.

In pretty much every other match since the US Open Djokovic has been a machine with great offense and defense. Forehand and backhand have been lethal as always and his net game is his best ever. I don't know where you are getting all of this info from, unless you only watched his match vs. Wawrinka.
 

FreeBird

Legend
Are you basing this on his 28 match winning streak or today's loss or both? Please specify the period of time you're talking about. Cause he looked pretty solid to me for most of the time up until today's match.
Both. Some matches like his two matches against Nadal are exception to my analysis. He has become more aggressive against Nadal.
 

FreeBird

Legend
Have you watched Djokovic at all recently besides the Wawrinka match? In yesterday's match, he definitely could have played a bit more aggressively, but he still played pretty solid and the win was all due to how well Stan played.

In pretty much every other match since the US Open Djokovic has been a machine with great offense and defense. Forehand and backhand have been lethal as always and his net game is his best ever. I don't know where you are getting all of this info from, unless you only watched his match vs. Wawrinka.
He was passive at baseline during his streak too. Just that he was net rushing a lot.
 
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Nathaniel_Near

Guest
Have you watched Djokovic at all recently besides the Wawrinka match? In yesterday's match, he definitely could have played a bit more aggressively, but he still played pretty solid and the win was all due to how well Stan played.

In pretty much every other match since the US Open Djokovic has been a machine with great offense and defense. Forehand and backhand have been lethal as always and his net game is his best ever. I don't know where you are getting all of this info from, unless you only watched his match vs. Wawrinka.
Dunno, most of these things have seemed pretty clear to me even during the course of the streak.


He's depending too much on defense and passivity and should adjust his balance in my opinion because in this tournament throughout all his wins he only did it through generally just very solid play without playing himself into some kind of X factor form, and when it came down to it he wasn't able to attack Wawrinka with confidence during the match earlier.

He was still depending on his defensive attributes and consistency to win the match until deep into the 5th where FINALLY he decided he needed to attack instead of pseudo-attack, but he decided it too late and was in no such form to suddenly flip that switch.
 

FreeBird

Legend
Dunno, most of these things have seemed pretty clear to me even during the course of the streak.


He's depending too much on defense and passivity and should adjust his balance in my opinion because in this tournament throughout all his wins he only did it through generally just very solid play without playing himself into some kind of X factor form, and when it came down to it he wasn't able to attack Wawrinka with confidence during the match earlier.

He was still depending on his defensive attributes and consistency to win the match until deep into the 5th where FINALLY he decided he needed to attack instead of pseudo-attack, but he decided it too late and was in no such form to suddenly flip that switch.
Exactly my thoughts. Even at USO, he just kept balls in play against Wawarinka but suddenly went into basher mode against Nadal. It was quite obvious that this sudden flip will cause him to miss more on his ground strokes and resulted in tons of UEs.
 

DRII

G.O.A.T.
disagree with the OP.

i think Nole was trying to be artificially more aggressive and this ultimately upsetted his rythum and timing.

Nole at heart is a defensive player, theres nothing wrong with that. as a matter of fact, its worked very well for him.

if it aint broke, don't fix it.
 
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Nathaniel_Near

Guest
Exactly my thoughts. Even at USO, he just kept balls in play against Wawarinka but suddenly went into basher mode against Nadal. It was quite obvious that this sudden flip will cause him to miss more on his ground strokes and resulted in tons of UEs.
He's so far ahead of most of his competitors that he can get away with it, so it has perhaps led to some accidental complacency, and losing at the AO will certainly be a kick up the bum that may lead to this being recognised and rectified. Just my opinion.
 

heninfan99

Talk Tennis Guru
Way back he went for his shots and made more errors. I enjoyed watching his old style more but his vacuum cleaner style is extremely successful.
 

Blinkism

Legend
The guy hasn't won a slam in 2 years.

His game was "becoming very passive".

It's definitely become passive now, especially against top-level players who step it up. Contrast that to 2011 where even players playing their best aggressive game would still lose to Djokovic at all levels.

You'd be blind not to see this.
 

powerangle

Legend
The guy hasn't won a slam in 2 years.

His game was "becoming very passive".

It's definitely become passive now, especially against top-level players who step it up. Contrast that to 2011 where even players playing their best aggressive game would still lose to Djokovic at all levels.

You'd be blind not to see this.
He hasn't won a slam in 1 year, not 2 years. Last year's AO til now is one year.

Anyway, I agree with FreeBird and others that Djokovic has become more passive. Sort of reminds me of Roddick when he became passive (relatively speaking). It's like the whole mentality changes. Djokovic plays passively (generally) against lower ranked players because he can get away with it 99% of the time. When he starts playing Top 10 players (like Stan), I feel that he sometimes forgets to change his game plan to become more aggressive. It's like he only notices when it's too late.

He approaches Nadal aggressively right away becomes it's ingrained in him that he has to.
 
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Nathaniel_Near

Guest
He hasn't won a slam in 1 year, not 2 years. Last year's AO til now is one year.

Anyway, I agree with FreeBird and others that Djokovic has become more passive. Sort of reminds me of Roddick when he became passive (relatively speaking). It's like the whole mentality changes. Djokovic plays passively (generally) against lower ranked players because he can get away with it 99% of the time. When he starts playing Top 10 players (like Stan), I feel that he sometimes forgets to change his game plan to become more aggressive. It's like he only notices when it's too late.

He approaches Nadal aggressively right away becomes it's ingrained in him that he has to.
Bingo and ding ding ding.
 

swordtennis

G.O.A.T.
Generally agree on all of this. I do not even know where he goes from here. I chose Stan in 4 because I did not like how the end of the Istomin match and the Fognini match went. It was time for Stan to beat Djokovic because Djokovic was playing the same way but Stan was not he was playing better.
He has zero identity right now.
Also notice he seems to want to play Nadal and no one else in these big tournaments. Only seems to get motivated for Nadal. That is not how these tournaments work ya moron.
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
Djokovic's forehand has become pretty loopy IMO. It used to have alot more pace and penetration in 2008. He's not aggressive enough off the ground and he tries to make up for it with his medicore net game.
 

tipsa...don'tlikehim!

Talk Tennis Guru
Today he was very defensive, and that's something i don't understand and noticed before.

To me, in AO 2013 vs Wawrinka he was playing crap but still managed to win in the money time.

But I remember the US open SF he was pushing the ball :eek:

And 2 days later, against Nadal he was playing offensive as hell !! Still lost the final but was playing twice as better as he was in the SF ...
Is he scared of Wawrinka ?
 

swordtennis

G.O.A.T.
The decline of the flat hard forehand hit with confidence is the main contributor to the decline of Novak Djokovic.
FreeBird and I stated that back in 2012. The puffy FH hit with zero confidence is now the norm.
 

swordtennis

G.O.A.T.
Djokovic's Forehand declined a little in 2012 and then considerably after FO 2013. US Open Final he tried slugging the FH but had little confidence or consistency or precision.
 

FreeBird

Legend
The decline of the flat hard forehand hit with confidence is the main contributor to the decline of Novak Djokovic.
FreeBird and I stated that back in 2012. The puffy FH hit with zero confidence is now the norm.
It drives me crazy that he is still ignorant about this. Watching him today was like USO 13 saga against Wawa repeated except with different result. No improvements. I hope that this loss hits him hard and he stops relying upon his stamina rather than the ground strokes.
 

Djokovic2011

Bionic Poster
I miss Novak '07

I miss Novak '11

Where are you?
Exactly. One of the first things Virginia Wade said after the match had finished on Eurosport was how Novak's forehand had declined since 2011 when he never used to miss it and I completely agree with her. That was the one shot today that really seemed dodgy at times whereas a few years ago it was rock solid. I just hope that he starts playing more aggressively or who knows how many more defeats like this will happen again? :(
 

bilboa

Rookie
Just watched the match on ESPN3- I was surprised it went to 5.

Djoker played like crap - so passive and no penetration or weight behind his shots. Especially the forehand. Maybe it had to do with the wind conditions.. but that is poor excuse for an argument.

He could have overpowered Wava - why he chose not to, is beyond me. Either way, I do think Becker is the right person to get him to become more aggressive, but it will take time. I am bemused to listen on these boards and media how results can be seen immediately - to change one's game tactics, patterns etc takes a LOT of time..... 2014 might be a very transition like year for Djoko if this is what he has chosen to do.

The way Djoker played Wava deserved to win and I congratulate him - of all the people out there (ex Djoker) I think only him, Muzza, and Delpo have chance to beat Nadal.

All of us agree - when he is aggressive he wins the big matches, when passive he loses. The only problem is that he has to be tactically aggressive and not shoot all over the place like he did in sets 3 and 4 of USO 13.

Also, the serve and forehand must get heavier!!!
 

Tshooter

G.O.A.T.
Djoker should get rid of Becker and hire Connors. Djoker is too nice. He's too good at losing. He's too gracious a loser too. He needs Connors to change his mindset a bit. Get meaner. Get tougher. No way he should have lost to Stan.
 

Tenez101

Hall of Fame
Novak needs to stop giving a **** what the crowd thinks, stop trying put out this "nice guy image", and be ready to get his hands dirty in matches like in 2011. Ever since he first became no. 1, he's been trying to market himself as an "all-courter", forcing himself to come to net, whereas what he's really good at is baseline grinding.
 

tennis_hack

Banned
He cannot attack a slice at all. One of the reasons why 1hbh players like Haas, Kohlschreiber, Wawrinka, Federer and players with good slice like Murray are so effective against him, they can easily nullify his offence with one good slice.
 

Tshooter

G.O.A.T.
He cannot attack a slice at all. One of the reasons why 1hbh players like Haas, Kohlschreiber, Wawrinka, Federer and players with good slice like Murray are so effective against him, they can easily nullify his offence with one good slice.
Let's not exaggerate. If they were doing that great against him and "easily nullifying his offence [sic]" you would think they would have better records against him. Stan's is atrocious. Only Fed has a winning (barely) record against Djoker.

vs Haas 6-3
vs Kohl 3-1
vs Wawa 15-3
vs Fed 15-16 (Novak the last 3 in a row)
 

Kalin

Legend
The internet ate my post.... repeat:

Let's face it, if Djokovic had a net game worthy of a top 100 professional player he could have easily had 2 or 3 more GS titles. He has missed numerous laughably easy net shots at huge, match deciding, moments just in the last 12 months.
 

Kalin

Legend
The internet ate my post.... repeat:

Let's face it, if Djokovic had a net game worthy of a top 100 professional player he could have easily had 2 or 3 more GS titles. He has missed numerous laughably easy net shots at huge, match deciding, moments just in the last 12 months.
And, he listened to me!!

Actually, he seems to have listened to Becker. Very competent net play in the final; only one fluffed overhead and he even won that point too.
 
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