Former world no. 1 Novak Djokovic cut a dejected figure following his straight-set defeat to lower-ranked Benoit Paire in the second round of Miami Open 2018 Friday, March 23.
The 12-time Grand Slam champion came up with flat replies for most of the questions that came his way during the post-match press conference in Florida.
"I mean, I'm trying, but it's not working. That's all. That's all it is," Djokovic said when he was asked why he was struggling to return to dominant form.
"I am not feeling great when I am playing this way. Of course, I want to be able to play as well as I want to play. Just it is impossible at the moment. That is all," he added.
The six-time champion was a shadow of his former self during the 6-3, 6-4 defeat at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park. His 16-match winning run in Miami was brought to halt in just 66 minutes Friday.
Djokovic fails to emulate Federer, Nadal
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have shared the last five Grand Slam titles between them, have raised the bar for comebacks following their dream runs on return from injury layoffs last year.
However, Djokovic has not been able to emulate his arch-rivals on his return from a six-month injury layoff. He did not play a single competitive match after retiring hurt in the Wimbledon quarter-final last year.
Djokovic's Australian Open campaign earlier this year was marred by the recurrence of a persistent elbow injury.
The winner of four Sunshine Doubles then had a "small medical intervention" on his racquet-swinging elbow and made an earlier-than-expected return at Indian Wells only to crash out of the Masters 1000 tournament in the second round earlier this month.
"I know that you can't be the person that you were yesterday, and the player [you once were]. You have to keep on training, evolving, trying to improve your game," Djokovic said.
"I am just in general trying everything I can. It is what it is. I am not at the level that I used to be.
He added: "The circumstances that I was in the last two years were very challenging. But I'm not the only one that goes through that. I mean, there are tougher injuries that players go through. I don't want to sit here and whine about my last couple of years."
Djokovic will be back in action at Monte Carlo Masters, the season's first Masters 1000 tournament on the dirt scheduled between April 14 and 22.