Dita Alangkara/Associated Press
Novak Djokovic continues to struggle in his return to the court, suffering a 6-3, 6-4 upset loss to Benoit Paire in the second round of the Miami Masters on Friday.
The No. 9 seed had a bye in the first round.
Djokovic entered the day with a 16-match win streak at this tournament after winning it in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He missed the 2017 event due to an elbow injury and is clearly less than 100 percent after snapping his streak with a disappointing loss.
It’s the third straight loss for the former No. 1 player in the world.
The Serb showed some flashes from his past, winning an impressive 62 percent of his second serve while saving half of his break points. Unfortunately, he barely touched Paire’s serve while only earning a single break.
Each player held their serve in the first set before Paire won the last three games behind two breaks. The world No. 47 had six aces and zero double faults in the opening set, avoiding a single break point.
Mistakes on the other side made the underdog’s job easier:
Tennis TV @TennisTV
Upset in the making? @benoitpaire takes the first set from Novak Djokovic 6-3. Djokovic has won 21 consecutive matches against French players… #MiamiOpen https://t.co/mileCzSD9F
Djokovic made even more mistakes in the second set, struggling with his serve while getting only 56 percent of his first attempts in play. He had two double-faults and several unforced errors.
Paire didn’t even face break point until the end of the second set, and the Frenchman responded with an easy break in the final game for the win:
Tennis TV @TennisTV
The 16 match win streak in Miami is over… @benoitpaire ousts 6x champion Djokovic 6-3 6-4 to reach #MiamiOpen 3R. https://t.co/cua1G6g30q
The 28-year-old won 71 percent of his service points and faced little resistance from his superstar opponent.
As for Djokovic, it was the first time losing three straight matches since 2007, per ATP Media.
The 30-year-old has had a slow start to the year while he recovers from his elbow injury. After losing in the round of 16 at the Australian Open, he took more time off before suffering a first-round exit at Indian Wells.
However, he entered the week relatively pain-free.
“The last few days have been the first days in long, long time that I could actually focus on the game rather than have something in my mind always worried whether I’m going to have pain or not, and usually it happened,” Djokovic said Tuesday, per Jonathon Bradenof the ATP World Tour.
That didn’t seem to make a difference as he suffered a defeat in his first matches in both doubles and singles.
Meanwhile, Paire had struggled with consistency this year, including a first-round exit at the Australian Open, but he seems on track with two strong showings so far in Miami.
He will now try to keep his run going with a third-round battle against No. 22 seed Filip Krajinovic.