Novak Djokovic: Were Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to BLAME for Indian Wells loss?. That was the suggestion of Amazon Prime commentator Nick Lester after Djokovic crashed out to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round, losing 6-4, 6-4.
Djokovic’s clash with the German was postponed on Monday night due to weather conditions.
And when their Stadium Court clash resumed play on Tuesday, Kohlschreiber earned his first ever win against a World No 1 by beating Djokovic in an hour and 38 minutes.
The five-time Indian Wells champion struggled against the 35-year-old and suffered just his second defeat of 2019 after reaching the semi-finals of the Qatar Open and winning the Australian Open.
Having snapped up all of the last three Grand Slams, Djokovic was the red-hot favourite to become the first man to six triumphs in the Californian desert.
But he was well below his best against Kohlschreiber - and Lester suggested he may have been distracted by the politics surrounding the decision to oust Kermode.
Both Djokovic’s long-time rivals Federer and Nadal have voiced their disapproval over the move not to extend the 54-year-old Briton’s contract as the president of the ATP.
Player’s Council president Djokovic is thought to have been chiefly behind getting rid of Kermode - who has been in place since 2014 - as three players’ representatives voted against the application to continue his tenure.
But given the frustrated reaction to the decision from his peers, Lester says Djokovic may well have had other things on his mind.
He said on Amazon’s live Indian Wells coverage: “Whatever the problems were with Djokovic, whether he is less than 100 per-cent medically or whether the off-court politics have got to him - who knows, Kohlschreiber has beaten him. Very well played.
“We didn’t see the real Novak Djokovic here. Why? We might find out later on this afternoon.
“Maybe we’ll never know. Only his second defeat of the year.
“That’s the only statistic you need to know - 32 unforced errors for Novak Djokovic.
“Djokovic served better as the match evolved but the damage had been done. Kohlschreiber took his chances which Novak palpably didn’t.
“Just the one moment of real frustration. He could have done with more.
“The emotion, the intensity just wasn’t there. He took it on the chin most of the time and a quite extraordinary result.
“After more than a decade and a half, Kohlschreiber has the biggest win of his career.”
Another suggestion for Djokovic’s demise was illness, with Serena Williams and Alexander Zverev both having been struck by sickness this week.