Mark Knowles warns players: We will see ‘different’ Novak Djokovic at French Open

Former Grand Slam doubles champion Mark Knowles admitted he was surprised by the fact that Novak Djokovic ran out of energy in the Belgrade final but believes the Serb will be where he needs to be when the times comes for the French Open. 

After suffering a 6-2 6-7 (4) 6-0 loss to Andrey Rublev in the Belgrade final, Djokovic indicated the illness he was battling was the likely reason for him collapsing in the third set versus Rublev. 

“Well I think I’m a little surprised,” Knowles said on Tennis Channel’s Inside-In podcast, as quoted on Sportskeeda,. “It’s come out that he mentioned that he’s been battling illness, which kind of makes a little bit more sense, because obviously, we know that he’s limited in matches, having been out for a long time, obviously he’s dealt with a lot of off-court stress with figuring out when he can and can’t play based on COVID protocols or so forth.

“I maybe wasn’t as surprised in Monte-Carlo that he didn’t have enough in the tank to withstand Davidovich Fokina. I just felt that maybe by Belgrade, couple more weeks, getting used to matches, even though he did have some tough matches as we know, throughout the week, I was just surprised to see him go away physically in that third set.”

Knowles: Don’t underestimate Djokovic 

Throughout his career, Djokovic has been one of the most exceptionally prepared players on the ATP Tour. 

Djokovic basically didn’t play in the first three months of the season so it is natural that he needs time to regain his game and physical level. 

“We’ve seen Novak of course, we’ve attached him to being super human for so long, what an incredible champion, just a physical machine. But, you know, after securing a very gritty second set, at home, where you think you’d get a little bit more energy, a little bit more inspiration, he just went away. But like I said once again, it’s come out that he’s been battling with illness, so clearly, physically he is not where he wants to be,” Knowles added.

“I’m not discounting Novak Djokovic, that’s for sure, I know we’re going to see an entirely different one, when it comes to, maybe before the French, but definitely during the French, we’re going to see a different Novak Djokovic.”