Why Djokovic may still win the 2018 Australian Open?

Concerning this matter, on whether Djokovic would win the Australian Open of this year, the jury is seemingly in. 'Djokovic has an injury he is yet to recover from, just look at that white cast-like thing covering his right arm', 'Djokovic has a tight backhand right now, he is not able to use his best weapon all that well anymore', 'Djokovic is already 30 turning 31 and unlike Federer his playing style guarantees that he fades with age', 'There is Federer, Nadal and tons of super talented nextgen players', so they say, with their many different reasons why Djokovic cannot do it this time round. Yes, these reasons are grounded in truth, but there are still major hopeful signs out there for Djokovic and Djokovic fans. Specifically, there are 2 of them.

His serve is markedly better

We cannot say this with technical certainty, as we after all are like most of you amateur observers of the sport (except that one or two of us take it to an analytical level unbothered by the typical), so we have to make the disclaimer that this might not be true. From our observation though, of the past few matches Djokovic has played in, his serve has been much faster when hit out wide, even though the speed of the more down-the-T serves look very much the same. The wide serve has been used to great affect on many occasions and it seemed like Djokovic is getting more unreturned serves when compared to his game pre-2018.

He is shortening the margins

Andre Agassi is known for his aggressive baseline play which involves him hitting the balls as hard as possible, and as close to the lines as possible. Djokovic has adapted his game style in such direction, at the same time as Agassi was hired as his coach. A coincidence? We think not. The Djokovic pre-2018 is a very conservative one, and in fact his game style is not too different from the counter-punching grinding of Andy Murray. Rallies are exchanged with his opponent at very neutral speed with a higher-than-average spin to maintain consistency and for defensive purposes. The idea is to settle into the rally and when the opponent gets himself into a compromised enough position (which we are often not sharp enough to point out) he pounces with an offensive shot that usually sets up a chain of finishing shots that lead eventually to a winner or error. Thus, matches which had Djokovic as one of the contenders are usually drawn out given the long rallies that would naturally be resulted in from such game play. Djokovic's very recent game play oddly reminds us not of Murray this time, but of Roger Federer. Why is he trying to shorten the points now? Is it due to age or injury? We may soon find out. What is certain though is that it is helping him win the points.

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