What has happened to Djokovic's level?

Mustard

Talk Tennis Guru
Djokovic can't play well in the wind, it seems, and it was windy for most of the first 2 sets in the US Open final.
 

urban

Legend
Somehow he is pacing himself not so well, regarding the last majors. Often he peaks too soon in a major, winning many early rounders love and love. In the semis and finals against tougher opposition he is going down a bit. I was surprised that he lost a set to Ferrer.
Going by his game, he needs to put more aggressive components into his game. I saw him a lot at RG, when he was way too defensive and looked very vulnerable to players like Seppi and Tsonga. Although he has good, long, penetrating groundies, he never moves into the net to finish points, but always runs back to the baseline, to get the point going. Thats not a good tactic, if his timing is a bit off.
 

Govnor

Professional
Last year was a year to remember, he peaked. Unlikely he'll ever match that. But clearly, he is still going to be able to win majors. He lost in the 5th set yesterday, in a marathon.
 

Cfidave

Professional
There is no doubt in my mind, he would have won, had it been normal playing conditions. Look at the difference between the two day Ferrer matches.
 

TMF

Talk Tennis Guru
2011 & 2012 Nole made 3 slam finals and 1 semfinal. People forgetting that Nole was lucky to escape a 2 matchpoints against Federer in 2011 USO. Otherwise he would have 2 slam finals and 2 semifinals. However Nole lost to Federer this year at Wimbledon is no shame because Fed was the eventual winner. Had Fed was in the opposite half(or facing Nadal instead), Nole would made the final. Also, Nole is consistently making final, not that he's flaming out in early round. I think this year his level is virtually the same, except that he's just fell a little short. Let's wait til after the indoor season. Last year he did NOTHING after the USO, if this year he perform well then you can argue he had a better performance than last year. Keep in mind he's still #1 in the race.

EDIT: This is exactly the same excuse made by Nadal fans when they said he was massively declined in 2011 when everyone has debunked that claim. He was consistently making the final in every events he played and only end up a little short. He was even more consistent than 2010.
 
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Klatu Verata Necktie

Hall of Fame
Djokovic seems to be playing rather well. I don't get why some are saying that the level of his play has fallen off. He was a bit shaky at the start of the US Open final, but that seemed to be a result of the gusty wind which Murray happened to handle better.
 

Fastpace Ace

Professional
Djokovic seems to be playing rather well. I don't get why some are saying that the level of his play has fallen off. He was a bit shaky at the start of the US Open final, but that seemed to be a result of the gusty wind which Murray happened to handle better.
Yah, I agree. I mean, the guy made it to a grand slam final. Guy has really gone downhill.
 

PhrygianDominant

Hall of Fame
How many players in tennis history produced a season that is better than Djokovic's 2011 season?
Comparable seasons were played by McEnroe, Wilander (?), Federer, Nadal.... The only player able to string three slams together more than once was Federer. How many players have achieved this level of play is not relevant however, because we are talking about whether Djokovic's level has dropped or not.

Why it tells us about Novak?



Don't put words in my mouth.
I didn't put any words in your mouth. I was saying that Djokovic's 2011 seems to be a less reliable standard by which to predict his future results, and also that his level may have not dropped that much because his 2011 success did have some lucky moments. That is the point. He got hot, as others have said...couple gambler shots went in, a couple opponents choked, but he is not head and shoulders above his generation of players as Federer was against his, so there is no way he can do this repeatedly.
 

5555

Hall of Fame
Comparable seasons were played by McEnroe, Wilander (?), Federer, Nadal.... The only player able to string three slams together more than once was Federer. How many players have achieved this level of play is not relevant however, because we are talking about whether Djokovic's level has dropped or not.
It's clear that Djokovic's level dropped. My point is that when we talk about this we should look at the Big Picture. Let's say like this: Djokovic in 2012 failed to repeat what Sampras (GOAT candidate) could only dream about (Djokovic's 2011 is by far better than any Sampras's season).

I didn't put any words in your mouth.
Yes, you did. You said that you "don't see how Djokovic playing possibly the best season ever means he can do it again" even though that's not what I was trying to say.

Nadal didn't have a better season than Djokovic's 2011. And he couldn't repeat the level of his best seasons the following years (2009 and 2011).
Exactly.
 
The guy was just at the freaking US Open Grand Slam final! Geeze. If you're being sarcastic, then you got me fooled. He loses in record setting 5th setter match against a guy who was at his 5th around (or 5th or 4th in slam final) and "man this guys sucks". Unbelievable.

Surely his peak was not just a 1 year span? It seems strange, his 2011 was just off the charts, his speed and ball striking were scary.

Post AO this year he seems to have dipped quite dramatically, I mean he's just not hitting relentlessly from corner to corner like he once was, today in particular against Murray his movement seemed so off, and as a result he can't hit those huge groundies like he wants too. Just 2 titles this year...

What I find weirder is that there are not hundreds of other threads like this, nobody seems to be talking about Djokovic anymore, as if he's not even a factor.

Can anybody explain why his high level of play was so short lived? I honestly thought this guy would dominate for a few years the way he was playing in 2011, but now he's really not even close to that level of play. A few months ago this guy was going for 4 in a row (even though I didn't think he played particularly well at the FO), now it seems like he's world away from this form.
 

ibbi

Legend
Has anything happened to his level? I think he's still looking pretty fearsome through the early rounds, the difference is that he's not playing Nadal in all the finals, and Murray/Federer are not such wonderful matchups for him, and he's not always going to beat them. With the couple of losses he had earlier this year his confidence levels are obviously not as high, so that's not going to carry him through as it may have done last year.
 

PhrygianDominant

Hall of Fame
It's clear that Djokovic's level dropped. My point is that when we talk about this we should look at the Big Picture. Let's say like this: Djokovic in 2012 failed to repeat what Sampras (GOAT candidate) could only dream about (Djokovic's 2011 is by far better than any Sampras's season).....Yes, you did. You said that you "don't see how Djokovic playing possibly the best season ever means he can do it again" even though that's not what I was trying to say.
Well then, suffice to say it definitely wasn't clear to me what you were trying to say.

We have already established that in 2011 Djokovic had a great year. We are trying to establish whether his 2012 results are worse, in winning percentage and grand slam titles, because of a drop of level. I am of the opinion that Djokovic hasn't dropped his level.

Several of Djokovic's wins in 2011 were very close, so close that he could have easily lost through no fault of his own. In 2012 he was in some similar situations and they went the way of his opponent. 2012 was a great year for Djokovic, it just didn't fall together for him the way it did in 2011. A lot of things have to go right for a player to have a year like Djokovic did in 2011, and not all of them are in the player's control. In short, I think 2011 is the exception that proves the rule, rather than the other way around.
 

TMF

Talk Tennis Guru
Bold words, considering how Nadal had turned the tables on Djokovic during the clay season.
And this year RG Nole has turned the table by beating Federer. I can say he's better than last year on clay if you're going by beating certain player.

The point is Nadal fans makes excuse for his 2011 and Nole fans makes excuse for his 2012, simply because they didn't have the same result as the previous year. You can't decline when you're at 24/25 years old, that's too young.
 

namelessone

Legend
What happened to Djoko is that he lost his untangibles(thus losing some matches that he would've won last year with some amazing shots in critical moments) and some of his rivals played better than last year, especially Murray and Fed. Nadal himself improved his game against Djoko a bit and could have actually taken him out in AO, before his 3 victories over the serb in the clay season.

Djoko's forehand also seems to have let him down a bit this year and he seems to be a bit more passive in general but without the same killer instinct in crunchtime like last year. He only had two comparable escape acts this year with his 2011 ones and that is his match with Tsonga in RG and Murray in AO. Some will say that against Nadal in AO 2012 but here Djokovic could've finished the match in 4.

Another thing that seems to have happened is that Djokovic's serve has become not as effective and those physical problems from last year couldn't have helped.

Djoko still had a great 2012, making 3 slam finals and winning several masters but this drop in level(natural when you think about it), coupled with Fed's rebirth, Rafa's resilience on clay and Murray's awakening caused him to have a weaker year than in 2011.
 

Seany

Banned
The guy was just at the freaking US Open Grand Slam final! Geeze. If you're being sarcastic, then you got me fooled. He loses in record setting 5th setter match against a guy who was at his 5th around (or 5th or 4th in slam final) and "man this guys sucks". Unbelievable.
This thread was made after his loss to Delpo at the Olympics...
 
Djokovic is still getting the results this year. The only difference is he's just not coming away with the titles.

Australian Open

2011: Won title
2012: Won title

M1000 Indian Wells

2011: Won title
2012: Semifinals

M1000 Miami

2011: Won title
2012: Won title

M1000 Monte Carlo

2011: Did not play
2012: Final

M1000 Madrid

2011: Won title
2012: Quarterfinals

M1000 Rome

2011: Won title
2012: Final

French Open

2011: Semifinals
2012: Final

Wimbledon

2011: Won title
2012: Semifinals

M1000 Canada

2011: Won title
2012: Won title

M1000 Cincinnati

2011: Final
2012: Final

US Open

2011: Won title
2011: Final
 

DRII

G.O.A.T.
And this year RG Nole has turned the table by beating Federer. I can say he's better than last year on clay if you're going by beating certain player.

The point is Nadal fans makes excuse for his 2011 and Nole fans makes excuse for his 2012, simply because they didn't have the same result as the previous year. You can't decline when you're at 24/25 years old, that's too young.
Nadal certainly declined in 2011 vs 2010, just like Nole has declined vs his level last year.

Its not about results which are not always indicative of form, its how both are or were playing.

Nole's forehand and serve (right side) has gone off a little this year; similarily Nadal's backhand and return were off in 2011...
 

batz

G.O.A.T.
Djokovic is still getting the results this year. The only difference is he's just not coming away with the titles.

Australian Open

2011: Won title
2012: Won title

M1000 Indian Wells

2011: Won title
2012: Semifinals

M1000 Miami

2011: Won title
2012: Won title

M1000 Monte Carlo

2011: Did not play
2012: Final

M1000 Madrid

2011: Won title
2012: Quarterfinals

M1000 Rome

2011: Won title
2012: Final

French Open

2011: Semifinals
2012: Final

Wimbledon

2011: Won title
2012: Semifinals

M1000 Canada

2011: Won title
2012: Won title

M1000 Cincinnati

2011: Final
2012: Final

US Open

2011: Won title
2011: Final
Good post.

What is noteworthy is that Nole has lost his last 2 matches v Murray, his last 2 matches v Roger and his last 3 matches v Rafa.
 

zagor

Bionic Poster
Somehow he is pacing himself not so well, regarding the last majors. Often he peaks too soon in a major, winning many early rounders love and love. In the semis and finals against tougher opposition he is going down a bit. I was surprised that he lost a set to Ferrer.
Going by his game, he needs to put more aggressive components into his game. I saw him a lot at RG, when he was way too defensive and looked very vulnerable to players like Seppi and Tsonga. Although he has good, long, penetrating groundies, he never moves into the net to finish points, but always runs back to the baseline, to get the point going. Thats not a good tactic, if his timing is a bit off.
I think this is pretty much spot on.
 
M

monfed

Guest
He makes more errors off his BH these days and misses more in general. I'd say overall his BH has really let him down.
 
N

Nathaniel_Near

Guest
I've never seen Nole's level be higher than it is in 2012, the problem for him was that Nadal Federer and Murray all ascended to produce a higher standard of tennis than Nole has been historically capable of producing.
 

90's Clay

Banned
I've never seen Nole's level be higher than it is in 2012, the problem for him was that Nadal Federer and Murray all ascended to produce a higher standard of tennis than Nole has been historically capable of producing.
:shock::shock: Nadal won't even be around for the rest of the year.. So in all he will have missed HALF the season. It should easier without a healthy Nadal around. Fed has played better this year agreed but not to the level that Nole was playing last year.. And last year's nole whips on this years Murray easily.


Nole's level is definitely two are three levels below to the level he was producing last year
 
N

Nathaniel_Near

Guest
:shock::shock: Nadal won't even be around for the rest of the year.. So in all he will have missed HALF the season. It should easier without a healthy Nadal around. Fed has played better this year agreed but not to the level that Nole was playing last year.. And last year's nole whips on this years Murray easily.


Nole's level is definitely two are three levels below to the level he was producing last year
On the contrary, I think it's arguable that Nole's level is 4 or 5 tiers ahead this year rather than 2 or 3 lower. His ego has taken a hit in having to deal with all the elite players improving their level of play. Before Nadal got injured, his stats this year on serve and return were even more impressive than Nole's last year.

I see no hope for Nole herein.
 

r2473

G.O.A.T.
I heard someone slipped gluten into his breakfast right after his AO victory and couldn't make it to his egg in time to fully decontaminate.

In short, he's damaged goods. Finished.
 

90's Clay

Banned
On the contrary, I think it's arguable that Nole's level is 4 or 5 tiers ahead this year rather than 2 or 3 lower. His ego has taken a hit in having to deal with all the elite players improving their level of play. Before Nadal got injured, his stats this year on serve and return were even more impressive than Nole's last year.

I see no hope for Nole herein.
Nole barely got through the AO this year. Last year he breezed through it without any real effort in all beating Fed and Murray en route
 
N

Nathaniel_Near

Guest
Nole barely got through the AO this year. Last year he breezed through it without any real effort in all beating Fed and Murray en route
That's only because tennis gets better every year. Nole now needs to find a way to elevate his game yet again. The top players are figuring him out.
 

90's Clay

Banned
That's only because tennis gets better every year. Nole now needs to find a way to elevate his game yet again. The top players are figuring him out.
Oh stop.. Has Fed gotten any better? (And he's #1 in the world for crying out loud). Has Nadal gotten any better?? Hes not even playing. Nadal last year wasn't even good as Nadal in 2010. Forget this year. Nadal didn't even make it past the first week of wimbledon.


Murray very well could have lost the USO if not for the wind benefitting him lets no forget.. If not for the epic Cilic choke, Hell Murray doesn't even make the semis much less the finals to face Nole.
 
N

Nathaniel_Near

Guest
Oh stop.. Has Fed gotten any better? (And he's #1 in the world for crying out loud). Has Nadal gotten any better?? Hes not even playing. Nadal last year wasn't even good as Nadal in 2010. Forget this year. Nadal didn't even make it past the first week of wimbledon.


Murray very well could have lost the USO if not for the wind benefitting him lets no forget.. If not for the epic Cilic choke, Hell Murray doesn't even make the semis much less the finals to face Nole.
It's obvious to any tennis fan that Federer is playing by far the best tennis of his career, the conditions just suit his game style less. Djokovic despite improving his serves and volleys this year while keeping the rest of his game at the same level other than his cc backhand, wasn't able to achieve the same greatness as last year due to being surpassed and having way less luck.

Tennis saw evolution from a fairly good Sampras to a very good Federer to an amazing Nadal to an unbelievable Djokovic and now to an almost unbeatable Murray.
 

batz

G.O.A.T.
It's obvious to any tennis fan that Federer is playing by far the best tennis of his career, the conditions just suit his game style less. Djokovic despite improving his serves and volleys this year while keeping the rest of his game at the same level other than his cc backhand, wasn't able to achieve the same greatness as last year due to being surpassed and having way less luck.

Tennis saw evolution from a fairly good Sampras to a very good Federer to an amazing Nadal to an unbelievable Djokovic and now to an almost unbeatable Murray.
You were doing so well too :)
 

5555

Hall of Fame
Well then, suffice to say it definitely wasn't clear to me what you were trying to say.
You lost the argument. You said that you didn't put any words in my mouth, I provided reasons supporting my claim that you did put words in my mouth and then you failed to produce counterargument.

We are trying to establish whether his 2012 results are worse, in winning percentage and grand slam titles, because of a drop of level. I am of the opinion that Djokovic hasn't dropped his level.
"His first coach, Jelena Gencic, had suggested the Serb’s failure to maintain his stunning form of 2011 was due to personal problems off-court." http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/342425/Novak-Djokovic-still-working-hard-for-pure-sport

In short, I think 2011 is the exception that proves the rule, rather than the other way around.
Djokovic's 2011 is far better than any Sampras's season, and Sampras is a GOAT candidate.
 
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Ms Nadal

Semi-Pro
Djokovic was never going to repeat the feats of last year so I don't know why people keep saying he is having a bad year. He is having a decent year. We can't expect him to do 2011 every year.
 

TheFifthSet

Legend
On the contrary, I think it's arguable that Nole's level is 4 or 5 tiers ahead this year rather than 2 or 3 lower. His ego has taken a hit in having to deal with all the elite players improving their level of play. Before Nadal got injured, his stats this year on serve and return were even more impressive than Nole's last year.

I see no hope for Nole herein.
I don't see how he is playing better this year. If you wanna say other players upped their level, fine, but why do you think he is playing better? What is he doing better? His forehand has broken down a lot this year, his groundies aren't as penetrating and his serve isn't as good. He struggled against Seppi at the French and also almost lost to Tsonga. I don't know if you can suggest Seppi upped his level to almost beat Nole more than him simply playing much worse. In general he's been tested by a lot of lower-ranked players that last year he'd be beating handily. And did you see the first set of that Cincy match? It was atrocious! Probably the worst I had seen Djokovic play in years. I think he gave all 3 breaks away with a double fault, and hit something like 5-6 doubles in the first set.
Even his movement hasn't been as good as it was last year, and he's not the giant he was in the critical junctures of a match. That's not to make excuses and say he would have won so and so if it was up to par with last year....just that, last year was so good that IMO it's REALLY implausible to suggest there hasn't been a drop-off in the level of his play. I mean I just can't believe 3 guys simply figured him out or something. Given their 2012 forms, I don't think Federer Nadal or Murray would win 3 majors and go 70-6 with 10 titles if you transpoted them to 2011. Again, it's not an excuse, but if you have one of the greatest years in open era history and then follow it up by merely a "great" year, it's a safe bet that your level has dropped. Occam's razor my friend, Occam's razor.
 
N

Nathaniel_Near

Guest
I don't see how he is playing better this year. If you wanna say other players upped their level, fine, but why do you think he is playing better? What is he doing better? His forehand has broken down a lot this year, his groundies aren't as penetrating and his serve isn't as good. He struggled against Seppi at the French and also almost lost to Tsonga. I don't know if you can suggest Seppi upped his level to almost beat Nole more than him simply playing much worse. In general he's been tested by a lot of lower-ranked players that last year he'd be beating handily. And did you see the first set of that Cincy match? It was atrocious! Probably the worst I had seen Djokovic play in years. I think he gave all 3 breaks away with a double fault, and hit something like 5-6 doubles in the first set.
Even his movement hasn't been as good as it was last year, and he's not the giant he was in the critical junctures of a match. That's not to make excuses and say he would have won so and so if it was up to par with last year....just that, last year was so good that IMO it's REALLY implausible to suggest there hasn't been a drop-off in the level of his play. I mean I just can't believe 3 guys simply figured him out or something. Given their 2012 forms, I don't think Federer Nadal or Murray would win 3 majors and go 70-6 with 10 titles if you transpoted them to 2011. Again, it's not an excuse, but if you have one of the greatest years in open era history and then follow it up by merely a "great" year, it's a safe bet that your level has dropped. Occam's razor my friend, Occam's razor.
The biggest problem with this post is the seriousness of the response. Your arguments are not stated eloquently nor are they backed up by plausible logic, and therefore I disagree with you entirely. Nole's lack of a reliable overhead has finally led to him being exposed as a player.
 
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Nathaniel_Near

Guest
Djokovic was never going to repeat the feats of last year so I don't know why people keep saying he is having a bad year. He is having a decent year. We can't expect him to do 2011 every year.
I agree, especially when the level of tennis is constantly rising, much like a beautifully baked souffle, or indeed a very puffy muffin mid cookery.
 

TheFifthSet

Legend
The biggest problem with this post is the seriousness of the response. Your arguments are not stated eloquently nor are they backed up by plausible logic, and therefore I disagree with you entirely. Nole's lack of a reliable overhead has finally led to him being exposed as a player.
I agree with you on the eloquence part. My posts are rushed these days as I'm juggling two jobs and school, so I'm perpetually overtired and it reflects in my posting. I've been so tedious it's starting to annoy even me, so I can sympathize with your complaint.

Regardless, you didn't really respond to even one point I made, so I don't understand why you responded at all. No offence meant, I just don't see what the point was if you ignored essentially all I had to say. Above all, I think Djokovic's performance against lower-ranked players and in the clutch are very salient arguments, and clear indicators that he's taken his foot off the gas pedal.
 
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abmk

Bionic Poster
The biggest problem with this post is the seriousness of the response. Your arguments are not stated eloquently nor are they backed up by plausible logic, and therefore I disagree with you entirely. Nole's lack of a reliable overhead has finally led to him being exposed as a player.
ok, that is some seriously quality trolling ..........:)
 

TheFifthSet

Legend
ok, that is some seriously quality trolling ..........:)
I did detect a hint of it when he said Djokovic's overhead was his undoing, out of all things (his overhead is poor for a player of his caliber, but that's just a needle in a haystack, it's ALWAYS been bad)....eh, I'm tired, I'm easy to bait right now. :)
 
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RF20Lennon

Legend
Ok lets analyze his losses! Dubai- Murray played very well. Nole committed a lot of unforced errors! Indian wells- Isner seriously got HOT Monte Carlo- Grandfather passed away (couldve caused emotional issues) Rome- Nadal regains confidence and plays extremely well! Roland garros- 4-4 in the first unlucky break for nole but i think if they had continued the match he wouldve won 2.0 was showing up! Wimbledon- Federer on a mission on his fav surface NO CHANCE. Cincy- again federer too good! plus it was hot. USO-shouldve won bad shot choices in the 5th cost him. So really its not that his level has dropped just that other guys have now started to figure him out! Last year no one got hot except nole
 
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Nathaniel_Near

Guest
I did detect a hint of it when he said Djokovic's overhead was his undoing, out of all things (his overhead is poor for a player of his caliber, but that's just a needle in a haystack, it's ALWAYS been bad)....eh, I'm tired, I'm easy to bait right now. :)
BWAHAHAHAHhahahahahahaha *evil laugh*

Moving on...
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
Ok lets analyze his losses! Dubai- Murray played very well. Nole committed a lot of unforced errors! Indian wells- Isner seriously got HOT Monte Carlo- Grandfather passed away (couldve caused emotional issues) Rome- Nadal regains confidence and plays extremely well! Roland garros- 4-4 in the first unlucky break for nole but i think if they had continued the match he wouldve won 2.0 was showing up! Wimbledon- Federer on a mission on his fav surface NO CHANCE. Cincy- again federer too good! plus it was hot. USO-shouldve won bad shot choices in the 5th cost him. So really its not that his level has dropped just that other guys have now started to figure him out! Last year no one got hot except nole
IMO it's not bad shot choices that have been Djokovic's problem this year, it has been lack of stamina compared to 2011. Last year, his energy levels and stamina were absolutely phenomenal, he could outlast anybody as Nadal, hitherto the fittest of all the players, found out to his consternation. This year, his stamina has still been strong but nothing like 2011 levels. He struggled to get past Murray in the AO semi and was lucky to get past Nadal in the final after Nadal went up a break in the 5th set. After that, Nadal began to win the stamina wars again as he outlasted Djokovic in every match they played since (until Nadal's own fitness again broke down after his early exit at Wimbledon). At the Cincy final, Djokovic's fluctuating energy levels told straightaway as he allowed Federer to quickly bagel him in the 1st set before managing to put up a better fight in the 2nd. (Curiously, he had a similar melt-down in the 2011 Cincy final when he retired after going a set and 2 breaks down. The only instance of him running out of gas last year prior to the USO). At the USO, he was able to cruise through most of his matches with ease against inferior players until Murray gave him his usual workout in the final. By the 5th set, he was spent, he could scarcely move, something that would never have happened for most of 2011. Murray, often criticised for his own fitness levels, had outlasted Djokovic in the stamina battle.

It's not that he's become unfit or anything like that. It's that he doesn't seem to be able to expend quite the same energy and go quite the same distance to the same extent that he did for most of last season.
 
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IMO it's not bad shot choices that have been Djokovic's problem this year, it has been lack of stamina compared to 2011. Last year, his energy levels and stamina were absolutely phenomenal, he could outlast anybody as Nadal, hitherto the fittest of all the players, found out to his consternation. This year, his stamina has still been strong but nothing like 2011 levels. He struggled to get past Murray in the AO semi and was lucky to get past Nadal in the final after Nadal went up a break in the 5th set. After that, Nadal began to win the stamina wars again as he outlasted Djokovic in every match they played since (until Nadal's own fitness again broke down after his early exit at Wimbledon). At the Cincy final, Djokovic's fluctuating energy levels told straightaway as he allowed Federer to quickly bagel him in the 1st set before managing to put up a better fight in the 2nd. (Curiously, he had a similar melt-down in the 2011 Cincy final when he retired after going a set and 2 breaks down. The only instance of him running out of gas last year prior to the USO). At the USO, he was able to cruise through most of his matches with ease against inferior players until Murray gave him his usual workout in the final. By the 5th set, he was spent, he could scarcely move, something that would never have happened for most of 2011. Murray, often criticised for his own fitness levels, had outlasted Djokovic in the stamina battle.

It's not that he's become unfit or anything like that. It's that he doesn't seem to be able to expend quite the same energy and go quite the same distance to the same extent that he did for most of last season.
Perfect analysis. However, to be fair to Djokovic at the US Open final he did play a day later in physically tougher semi final. However, fitness is all that has changed with Djokovic.
 
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