I had the opportunity to go to Indian Wells this year and, as luck would have it, got to see Ana and Nole take home the titles. One of the coolest things about the tournament was getting to see Nole's serve up close. Words cannot describe how easily he was able to place the ball with pace or how much kick he can get if he wants to. It was really an amazing sight.
Which might explain why one of the most indelible images still burned into my mind from Wimbledon (other than Ana's net cord and Rafa's collapse after winning) is the vision of Nole double faulting on match point to lose to Marat. He served horribly the entire match, but I had seen him be clutch on his serve so many times that it didn't even occur to me that he would double fault so badly ON MATCH POINT.
Which brings me to my point: Does Nole now have a case of the serving yips? His ace count isn't where it normally should be and he's not holding very easily. Here's what he said in his presser:
Q. You talked about the serve in Toronto. I think you saved 12 break points and you still managed to win the match, but how worried are you about the serve?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I'm trying not to be worried too much. The fact is that it's troubling me in the present, and this is something that I was working on in the last couple of days. This is something that I will work on in the next couple of weeks, you know, so I can get it right.
Q. Something technical, or what do you think?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's a matter of, I think, just confidence in one side. There are a lot of details: ball toss, just technical explosivity (sic) of the movements, all kinds of stuff. It all comes from the head. Mentally you just have to be relaxed and calm in that moment, just be focused, and this is what I don't do in some moments.
When he's not holding easily, Nole doesn't have that swagger. He begins to lose confidence in the rest of his game and he puts too much pressure on himself to break every time and he gets tight. So we'll see how the serve is holding up in Cincy. If he can't hold serve at love or 15, it's going to be a LONG hard court season for him.