‘He’d be unstoppable right now’ declares Brad Gilbert on Novak Djokovic without Covid
Brad Gilbert is certain that Novak Djokovic would be commanding the ATP tour at the moment were it not for the restrictions he faces due to Covid.
Djokovic’s unvaccinated status means that is severely limited in the events he has been permitted to play in 2022, having been deported ahead of the Australian Open before being unable to enter the US for Indian Wells and the Miami Masters.
Gilbert, who coached Andre Agassi to six of his eight Slams, Andy Roddick to his 2003 US Open title and a young Andy Murray in 2006 and 2007, sees this Covid disruption as the only real obstacle to Djokovic’s success currently.
“Before any of this with Covid happened, I thought that Novak Djokovic would be unstoppable around this time,” Gilbert told Patrick McEnroe on the Holding Court Podcast.
“[But now], it’s all just a mystery with him.
“I just think that when you get so much equity by winning matches, which he had tons of, and all of a sudden you’re not playing and all these things that happened with Covid, I think it’s been mentally taxing.”
Djokovic has played just three times in 2022 and only at one event, winning twice in Dubai before losing to qualifier and eventual finalist Jiri Vesely.
This time last year, the world number one had still only played nine matches ahead of Monte Carlo, but all nine were wins, including his run to a record-extending ninth Australian Open title and 18th Slam crown overall.
Gilbert reiterated that Djokovic truly has been a constant on the tour, backed by the stat that the Serb has played 60 or more matches in 13 of the last 15 tour seasons, with injury in 2017 and Covid in 2020 providing the only exceptions.
“Now, it’s kind of forgotten, but [Djokovic] has been there the whole time.
“All of a sudden, he’s gone.
“I think even if he gets to play all through Europe, I gotta see results and I gotta see how he gets his game back.
“Maybe he will get it back.”
Djokovic competed four clay events ahead of his triumph at Roland Garros in 2021, playing Monte Carlo, Rome and twice in Belgrade, claiming an ATP 250 title on his second visit to the Serbian capital.
This year, the 34-year-old is scheduled to play the Monte Carlo Masters (10-17th April), the Serbia Open (18th-24th April) and the Madrid Masters (1-8th May), with the Rome Masters beginning 8th May also still a possibility though not confirmed.
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