London: A year that began with a 41-match winning streak, included three grand slam titles and saw him knock Rafa Nadal off his perch ended in tame fashion for a "drained" Novak Djokovic when he made an early exit from the ATP World Tour Finals on Friday.
A surprise 3-6 6-3 6-3 defeat by fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic combined with Tomas Berdych`s victory over David Ferrer meant Djokovic finished third in Group A and can start packing his bags for a well-earned rest in The Maldives.
It will be a chance for the 24-year-old world number one to recharge his batteries for the 2012 season when he will hope to rediscover the form that made him almost unbeatable at times this year.
Djokovic arrived at the season-ender with doubts over his shoulder and, despite an opening win against Berdych, he looked to have nothing left in the tank by the time he hit a tired-looking forehand into the net on match point against Tipsarevic.
"You know, my body says that it`s overload," Djokovic told reporters before knowing whether or not he would be in action in Saturday`s semi-finals.
"It has been too much this year. Obviously, mentally I feel a little bit drained. I just don`t have that freshness in my mind for the matches and I don`t have these dynamics that I had in all 10 months of the year.
"But this is something to be expected after the year that I had. Tomorrow, if I don`t play, I`ll look forward to going for a much-needed rest."
Despite ending the year with his first back-to-back defeats since March 2010, Djokovic said he had been satisfied with his display against Tipsarevic and believed he would be in great shape for the defence of his Australian Open crown.
"If this is my last match in the Masters Cup, I`ll be happy because I think, at least compared to the match against Ferrer, I played a little bit better," he said, referring to his 6-3 6-1 defeat by the Spaniard on Wednesday.
"I think I have more than enough time to get my old strength back and prepare well," added the 24-year-old who this time last year led his country to Davis Cup glory against France.
"So I`m sure that if I have as good a preparation as I had last year, I`m confident I can do well in Australia."
Djokovic said he would not be playing any official tournaments until Melbourne.