Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic wants to emulate Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal after making injury comeback. In this picture, Djokovic of Serbia; Nadal of Spain and Federer of Switzerland on stage during the ATP Heritage Celebration at The Waldorf-Astoria in New York City on Aug. 23, 2013. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic admits he rushed his return from injury, which resulted in his poor performances at the Indian Wells and Miami Masters where he lost in the second round to a lower ranked opponent.

The Serbian suffered a recurrence of the elbow injury that saw him skip the second-half of the 2017 season at the 2018 Australian Open. Djokovic lost in straight sets to rising star Hyeon Chung in Melbourne, after which he underwent a minor non-intrusive procedure, which saw him sidelined for over a month.

The world number 12 returned to action at the Indian Wells Masters, but succumbed in his first match to 107-ranked Taro Daniels, and then suffered the same fate at the Miami Open when he lost his first match to world number 47 Benoit Paire.

In hindsight, Djokovic admits it was a mistake to rush his return and revealed he needs to follow Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s example. The Swiss ace and the Spaniard were out for a lengthy period in 2016 before returning with aplomb in 2017.

They won a combined 13 titles last season reaching the top of the rankings with Nadal ending the year as the world number one and Federer finishing just behind his long-time rival. The Swiss legend continued his form into 2018 and defended his crown at the Australian Open, while the Spaniard suffered a hip injury in January, which kept him out for over two months.

Nadal, however, did not let the injury affect his confidence and picked up two titles on his favorite surface — clay — at the Monte Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open. Djokovic is keen to follow the duo’s example and get back to winning ways at the earliest.

“Rafa Nadal and (Roger) Federer had long breaks, came back and this is an example that I have to follow. I did some errors, I came back earlier than needed. The desire was stronger than the rational,” Djokovic said, as quoted by Tennis World USA.

“Now I feel the post-surgery consequences. I shouldn't have competed in the American swing. I didn't hurt my hand, but I wasn't ready for matches and I got losses that are the price to pay in my comeback,” he added.

Djokovic split with coach Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek earlier in the year and reunited with former coach Marian Vajda prior to the start of the clay court season in April. He lost in the quarter-finals at the Monte Carlo Masters and in the second round at Barcelona.

The former world number one will be with Vajda at least until the French Open later this month and is hoping their partnership will yield positive results. It is clear that Djokovic is struggling for confidence at the moment, but he made it clear that the fire to return to the top is very much present.

“I am very grateful to them for accepting the invitation to work again,” he said about his former coach returning to work with him. “It is currently an agreement to be there until Roland Garros. We are hoping for the best.”

“Confidence is lower than what it used to be, but it can come back quickly, few good matches, a good tournament. I am trying to stay positive and I am extremely motivated.”