Is Novak still the Shanghai Master?
NOVAK Djokovic returns from injury at this week's Shanghai Masters with the eyes of the tennis world
on his form and motivation as his world number one spot comes under threat from Andy Murray.
The Serb has been a peerless performer in China.
When he won his third Shanghai Masters title last year, he was putting the finishing touches on one of the best tennis seasons in history.
But since completing a career Grand Slam at the French Open in June, it has been a troubled period for the 12-time major winner, who admitted he had lost
his love for the game.
Djokovic fell in Wimbledon's third round and, tearfully, in the first round at the Rio Olympics.
He went down to
Stan Wawrinka in the
US Open final.
The Serb, who has spoken of "private issues", quit his usual residence in Monte Carlo to return to his native Belgrade, revealing that he wasn't "very well
at an emotional level".
Wrist problems hampered him in New York.
He pulled out of this month's China Open in Beijing, where he was unbeaten in four appearances, with an
Djokovic will need to get quickly back into his stride as Murray, fresh from succeeding the Serb as the China Open champion late on Sunday, bears down on him in the rankings.
Murray had sympathy for Djokovic, his contemporary and sparring partner since their teenage years, saying
his loss of motivation was "completely understandable".
"A lot of players have gone through that. It can happen at different stages," said the 29-year-old second seed.
"When you achieve something that you've wanted to achieve for such a long time... you feel incredible for a number of days afterwards.
"But there can be a low after that. It would be completely understandable to have those feelings."