Whilst less than a handful of straight losses is no real blot on most tennis player’s formbook, such is the benchmark set by players such as Djokovic etc al that the Serb’s current form is concerning.
Comforting though that Australian Open run was (and let’s remember the calibre and subsequent form book of the man who beat him) the nature of this slump is all too telling.
I have written before about the injuries and resulting time away and dip in form of the other Big three/four/five whatever. I maintain that the proof will be in the mental pudding with how each player ultimately fares.
What I mean is that at this juncture, the Big Four will revert in the history books back to a Big Two. Federer and Nadal have both suffered dips in form and endured lengthy spells in the wilderness, sometimes irregardless of injury. But their winning mentality and inner belief has rarely been seen lacking.
Do the likes of Wawrinka, Murray and even the mighty Djokovic truly exude such tenacity and self-belief? Perhaps it is the very prospect of still having to take on that Swiss and Spaniard that creates this mental barrier and allows those heads to drop.
Perversely, one may look at Juan Martin Del Potro to see exactly how such self belief can endure the toughest of ordeals (although there is undoubtedly an undercurrent of natural talent here that the others save for Wawrinka arguably don’t possess).
No, with the Serb and perhaps the Scot, there is a mental vacuum that is all encompassing and which can threaten to overpower everything in its path once journeymen start racking up the wins against you.
It’s incredibly early days, and in Murray’s case I’m guilty of assuming alot here. Long may they prove me wrong.