Novak Djokovic started the Grand Slam season by winning the Australian Open. The Serbian sensation hasn't been able to match that success in the last two majors. He was eliminated by Rafael Nadal at the French Open and now Andy Murray has knocked him out of Wimbledon.
Djokovic won Wimbledon two years ago during his breakout 2011 campaign. He was hoping for a similar performance this time around to give him some momentum as the ATP Tour heads back toward the hard courts, but fell short of that goal.
Murray took the match in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6, 6-5, dominating Djokovic throughout the contest.
Wimbledon detailed Murray's victory in these tweets:
It took Murray just three hours and nine minutes to dismantle Djokovic, raising some questions about the world No. 1 and his ability to finish the job.
Even though there's no doubt Djokovic is one of the best players in the world, the loss does raise further questions about his ability to win Grand Slam events outside of Australia. He's won the season's first major four times and the other three just twice combined.
Both of those other triumphs, at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, both came during his aforementioned extraordinary 2011 season. There have been plenty of semifinal and final appearances over the last four years, but no other major tournament wins.
His success in Australia would seem to suggest he peaks quicker than the other top players.
But by the time everybody else gets into top form during the stretch from the French Open to the U.S. Open, he's struggled to get over the hump.
So the top-ranked player in the world has something to prove as the tennis world heads toward the season's final major. A victory in New York would go a long way to validate his standing as the best player.
It's not a daunting task for Djokovic. He's made at least the semifinals in six straight years, including four finals trips and the 2011 championship. The U.S. Open has treated him well, which isn't a surprise given his success on hard courts.
Yet, there's a difference between deep runs and winning Grand Slam trophies.
Everybody knows Djokovic can beat, and often destroy, lower-ranked opponents. But winning majors means beating a couple of top players in succession during the second week.
Djokovic has done it six times before and will very likely do it again in the future. The longer he goes without winning outside of Australia, however, the more questions will be raised about where he truly stands alongside the likes of Roger Federer and Nadal.
He can silence any doubters by winning the U.S. Open.