Djokovic Continues Struggle To Return To Form As He Crashes In Miami

Novak Djokovic insists he is playing pain-free at last as he pursues his comeback at Miami Masters

"Of course, Novak is not playing like he was playing before, but I hope he's going to be 100 percent soon". While that statistic is just a mere representation of how good Djokovic can truly be, he endured another disappointing afternoon, falling in straight sets to Frenchman Benoite Paire as he steps up his bid to regain full fitness. I am not at the level that I used to be.

The former world No 1 has now lost three on the bounce following his early Indian Wells exit and then Australian Open defeat to Hyeon Chung.

Djokovic's backhand collapsed nearly completely at the end of the first set and while he improved slightly in the second he was broken at 4-5 for the world-ranked 47 Paire. I'm aware of that. Amanda Anisimova; Jelena Ostapenko bt Timea Babos 6-4, 6-4; Beatriz Haddad Maia bt Shuai Zhang 6-3, 6-2; Sofia Kenin bt Daria Kasatkina 3-6, 6-2, 6-2; Petra Kvitova bt Aryna Sabalenka 7-5, 3-6, 6-3; Elina Svitolina bt Naomi Osaka 6-4, 6-2; Venus Williams bt Natalia Vikhlyantseva 7-5, 6-4; Danielle Collins bt Coco Vandeweghe 6-3, 1-6, 6-1; Donna Vekic bt Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-1.

Later in Wimbledon he retired during his match with Thomas Berdych in the quarters due to an elbow injury, an issue he said has been bothering him for over a year.

Juan Martin del Potro survived a battle with Robin Haase to capture his 12th consecutive win at 6-4, 5-7, 6-2.

It comes as at the 12-time Grand Slam victor battles to get back on song following another injury lay-off. "I don't want to sit here and whine about my last couple of years". Another dismal stretch came when he was broken at love in the final game of the match.

Paire wrapped up the set with a second break, a struggling Djokovic thudding a backhand into the net, having been 40-0 up.

"I don't know what to expect", he added after being asked if he anticipates a return to his peak form sometime in the future. "The truth is that it wasn't easy".

'Obviously I compromised my game and the movement and everything because of the injury. Djokovic told the press he came to Indian Wells and Miami - he has won the "Sunshine Double" four times - because he loves the hard courts and wanted to play more matches before to help prepare himself as the ATP World Tour gets ready to shift to the European red clay. "I'm trying to figure things out and see what happens".

Federer, a three-time champion in Miami, has not suffered defeat this early in Key Biscayne since 2000 when as an unseeded teenager he was beaten by Mariano Zabaleta.

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