The perplexing decline of Novak Djokovic continued when he suffered a third straight defeat to be sent packing from the Miami Open.
The former king of hard courts, who had declared himself pain-free prior to this, was beaten 6-3 6-4 by unpredictable Frenchman Benoit Paire, making it the first time since late 2007 that he has lost three matches in a row.
It was also only the second time he has been defeated in 32 matches at Miami as he followed up his loss in Indian Wells to Japanese journeyman Taro Daniel with another one, on top of his Australian Open exit to Hyeon Chung.
Djokovic’s backhand collapsed almost completely at the end of the first set and while he improved slightly in the second he was broken at 4-5 for the world-ranked 47 Paire.
His body language was undulating, even though he said before this event that his troublesome elbow had been feeling good.
This is worst run since the Masters Cup year-end event in 2007, a testament to his extraordinary consistency over the years, and there is much to contemplate ahead of the clay court season.