For Novak Djokovic, the 12 times Grand Slam champion, those golden days seem to have come to an end. With a fluctuant game in 2017, the Serb failed in his quest to defend the title he won last year at Indian Wells. Leading the bottom half of the draw of the first Masters 1000 of the season, he seemed powerless against an enthusiast young Aussie Nick Kyrgios. For Djokovic, it was the 2nd crucial test of the tournament as in the previous round he edged Juan Martin del Potro in 3 sets. Against Kyrgios, the world no. 2 was outrun on most chapters.

Djokovic lacked sharpness and focus

With not much time to recover after battling del Potro in the 3rd round, Djokovic was from the very beginning in a lower gear than usual. On top of that, the excruciating midday heat of the desert seemed to have had a significant impact on the Serb's game. Facing Kyrgios for the 2nd time in the last weeks, Djokovic saw himself getting behind on the scoreboard since the beginning. With a surgical first serve, the 21-year-old Aussie put himself in the driver's seat. Serving aces with regularity and when they were needed, the Aussie young star left nothing useful on the table for the Serb. The opening set went on Kyrgios' side by 6-4. The 2nd set saw Djokovic struggling to keep his pace over the floating line.

The former world no. 1 saw his run coming to an end in a decisive tie-break where Kyrgios had some monster first serve to deliver.

Putting aside Kyrgios' phenomenal display of power, it remains a reluctant Djokovic devoured by inner demons. The general impression pictures a potent player who can manage his own frustrations on the tennis court.

That state of instability leads to unforced errors and bad judgments.

Miami may be the wake-up call

The next stop for the Serb will be in Miami, another Masters 1000 event which he won last year. A lengthy time-off between Indian Wells and Miami can act as a moment of reflection. Besides, those who are still competing this week will accumulate an extra dose of fatigue.

Although secondary, these are important facets which must be taken into account. But the core of Djokovic's issue remains his overall performance which is far from its potential, far from what he used to deliver not long ago.