Novak Djokovic suffers sixth defeat this year and admits he may struggle at French Open

Novak Djokovic - Novak Djokovic suffers sixth defeat this year and admits he may struggle at French Open
Novak Djokovic lost in three sets to little-known Czech player Tomas Machac - AP/Martial Trezzini

Novak Djokovic admitted that he is finding it hard to concentrate on tennis after suffering yet another defeat – his sixth of 2024 – at the Geneva Open. In his best form, he would lose that many matches in a whole season.

After a see-sawing 6-4, 0-6, 6-1 loss to the little-known Czech player Tomas Machac, Djokovic played down his own prospects in French Open, which starts on Sunday, where he will go in as top seed and defending champion.

“Of course I’m worried,” said Djokovic, who had taken the uncharacteristic step of asking for a wild card into Geneva after an even more surprising loss in the third round of Rome. That one was against Alejandro Tabilo, a Canadian who plays under the Chilean flag.

“I haven’t played well at all this year, apart from a few matches here and there. I don’t see myself as a favourite in Paris.

“I didn’t have a great night,” Djokovic added, “and today was tough. I had horrible feelings during the first part of the match. I don’t want to take any credit away from Tomas, who deserved his victory, but I don’t know what to think of this match. I prefer to forget it.

“I don’t know how I was able to win the second set either. I was hoping to play more than one match when I came here, and I played three. But I wish I could feel better. It’s not nice to suffer like that on the court. It’s hard to concentrate on tennis when you have other things on your mind. I just hope to be ready and in good health for Roland Garros.”

Novak Djokovic winning the French Open
There are doubts over whether Djokovic will be able to defend his French Open title, not least from the Serb himself - AP/Christophe Ena

Djokovic did not specify what “other things” might be on his mind, but earlier this month he spoke to his friend Nick Kyrgios – the former Wimbledon finalist – about his changing priorities as a committed family man.

“There’s probably a more mature Novak, a father and a husband, who is like, ‘Come on, man. There’s other things in life too,’” Djokovic told Kyrgios. “Some mornings, I’m unmotivated and less inspired to travel and play when I want to be at home and have a normal life.”

While a dip in his motivation level is probably the main reason behind Djokovic’s struggles this season, he also suffered a head injury in Rome a fortnight ago when a metal water bottle fell from the stands.

That was two days before the Tabilo defeat, which was done in just 67 minutes. And yet, despite all the negativity surrounding Djokovic this season, he remains second favourite with the bookies to win the French Open, behind only Carlos Alcaraz.

Given that Djokovic has led the tennis pack for more than a decade, he will remain a serious contender to lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires until someone eliminates him from the event. His ability to find form at the majors is unparalleled.