Novak Djokovic will head to Indian Wells with three titles, eighteen wins (seven of those against top ten opponents) and undefeated.
It wasn’t almost the case.
Djokovic led his head to head with Gael Monfils at 16-0 and we all expected a routine seventeenth victory for the Serb against the in-form Frenchman.
The world number one was quickly 2-6 1-3 down an up against time. Nothing was working for him. The drop shots were being caught, the backhand lacked power and the forehand couldn’t get over the net.
Novak fought and found himself back in action in a tie-break. He slipped 3-6 down and faced three consecutive match points to Monfils. Quite incredibly the first time in tie-break that Djokovic won a point on his serve at at 5-6 to level the tie-break and save three consecutive match points.
Djokovic went onto win the set and the rest is history.
Novak played excellently against Kohlschreiber, Jaziri and Khachanov on route to the semi-final but the way he responded following that Monfils match in his performance against Tsitsipas was absolutely magnificent.
From a fans point of view and someone like Djokovic who demands the best it wasn’t ideal that semi-final performance but it can be used as a learning curve and a catalyst going forward.
Following early exits at Indian Wells and Miami last year the world number one said he would have a re-think of his preparations after the Australian Open. Coming back to Dubai was the option he took for the first time since 2016.
In 2016 Novak only made it to the quarter finals before losing to Feliciano Lopez but did go onto complete the sunshine double.
Djokovic has won Indian Wells five times and Miami six times but not since 2016 and is the only player to have completed the sunshine double four times including three consecutive years in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
As much as I like seeing the brilliance of a player like Novak go through matches with ease it is interesting to see them have to figure it out. If he would have come through the week without a problem it would have been impressive but when at Indian Wells and Miami where you eventually will meet the best you might not be up to scratch in terms of competing and grinding through difficult patches.