The final shot of the match was an errant forehand that was also his 58th unforced error.
“Very weird; I just completely lost rhythm,” said Djokovic, the No. 10 seed, who added, “for me it felt like the first match I ever played on the tour.”
He was asked to clarify.
“Yeah, everything, nerves were there,” he said. “I made so many unforced errors that it was just one of those days where you are not able to find the rhythm from the baseline especially from the backhand side. That has always been a rock solid shot for me throughout my career. Just some inexplicable, uncharacteristic errors, but that’s I guess all part of those particular circumstances that I’m in at the moment.”
Less than two years ago, Djokovic was the first man since Rod Laver to hold all four Grand Slam singles title and possessed a massive lead atop the rankings. But his elbow problem and off-court issues that he has declined to discuss in detail succeeded in knocking him off his perch. There is also the question that many great tennis champions have faced: How to keep summoning the fire within?