Novak Djokovic’s failure to fire at the recent Olympics has put a target on his back, with the Serb now vulnerable as the US Open begins.
Former Grand Slam winner Mats Wilander, never afraid to weigh in with an opinion in his role as a Eurosport commentator, said the Serb is now a sitting duck for his rivals.
Djokovic went into meltdown at the Tokyo Games, losing a semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas and then going down in the bronze medal match to Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta.
Djokovic, who let his anger flow on court, then skipped the gold medal match in mixed doubles after his temper tantrum.
For Wilander, the No. 1 could well find himself an early loser in New York – the event where he was defaulted a year ago for accidentally hitting a lineswoman in the face with a ball fired in anger.
Following his Olympic embarrassment, Djokovic skipped the pair of Canada and Cincinnati Masters warmups, instead laying low in the Balkans before travelling to the Open.
“What happened at the Olympics will not affect Novak Djokovic, but it will affect the other players,” the Swede said.
“And they will think if Carreño Busta can beat Djokovic for a medal, then that’s huge because Carreño Busta doesn’t have the same weapons as (Alexander) Zverev or Daniil Medvedev.
“Carreño doesn’t have great serve, but he can still beat Novak Djokovic.”
Wilander said chances are reasonable that Djokovic could be upset.
“Out of the other 127 players in the draw, you’re seeing at least 70-80 players who think they have a chance of beating Novak Djokovic.”
But he added: “I don’t think that makes a big difference to him. It’s just a tennis match for him.
“However, the rest of the players have a chance.”
Wilander said that Djokovic’s reign at the top ranking position might also be fragile.
“It will be very difficult for Novak to stay on top for too long, because of these new players (Tsitsipas, Zverev, Medvedev, Rubley and Shapovalov).
“There are so many physically good tennis players of this next generation … They are playing important matches, they are taking risks, they are serving big, they play aggressive, they are physically bigger.
“Although they do not move as well and they are not that strong mentally, I think it is going to be difficult for Djokovic.
“I think he will still win one more Grand Slam, sure, but I’m not sure when.”