Djokovic’s slump continues in opening round loss at Miami Open

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Miami, March 24 (IANS) Serbia’s Novak Djokovic failed to get past his opening match for the second straight tournament, falling 6-3, 6-4 to France’s Benoit Paire in second-round action at the Miami Open tennis tournament here.

Just as he did in a three-set opening-match loss two weeks ago at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, to Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel, the 31-year-old Serbian played more like a journeyman on Friday than a former world No.1 who is one of the greatest hard-court players in tennis history, reports EFE news agency.

The loss ended the six-time Miami Open champion’s 16-match winning streak at this hard-court event dating back to 2014 (he did not compete in last year’s tournament due to a long-standing elbow injury).

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Djokovic only broke Paire’s serve on one occasion, but his real problems were on his own serve.

Moving more slowly than usual and without the normal power and precision on his ground strokes, the Serbian surrendered his serve in the seventh and ninth games of the first set.

The second set followed a similar script.

Although he was able to make more of an impression on Paire’s serve and convert one break point, two more breaks of his own serve sent the No. 9 seed crashing out of the tournament.

“It is what it is. I’m not at the level I used to be, I’m aware of that. I have to obviously believe in myself and hopefully it will come,” the Serb said in the post-match press conference.

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Djokovic now has lost three straight matches for the first time in more than a decade and has a record of just 3-3 over three tournaments since returning in January from a six-month injury hiatus, with all three wins coming at the Australian Open.

Next up for the 47th-ranked Paire in the third round of this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament will be 27th-ranked Serbian Filip Krajinovic.

–IANS

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