Novak Djokovic was scathing of his performance in a shock Australian Open semi-final defeat to Italian fourth seed Jannik Sinner; “I was, in a way, shocked with my level, in a bad way. I guess this is one of the worst Grand Slam matches I’ve ever played. At least that I remember”
9:24, UK, Friday 26 January 2024
Novak Djokovic admitted he was “shocked” at his level after playing “one of the worst” Grand Slam matches in a shock Australian Open semi-final exit to Jannik Sinner.
An error-strewn Djokovic won just three games in the opening two sets and despite saving a match point in the third-set tie-break there was no dramatic comeback for the 10-time champion in Melbourne, with Sinner clinching a famous 6-1 6-2 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 victory.
Djokovic, who had not lost here since a fourth-round defeat by Hyeon Chung amid elbow problems in 2018, must lick his wounds.
Was it written in the stars?
July 16, 2023, Carlos Alcaraz interrupts Djokovic’s streak at Wimbledon after 2.195 days.
January 26, 2024, Jannik Sinner interrupts Djokovic’s streak at the Australian Open after 2.195 days.
The result was, of course, a shock given Djokovic’s record here – this is the first time he has ever lost having made it beyond the quarter-finals – but it was the Serb’s display that was the most surprising with 54 unforced errors and failing to create one break point.
“I want to congratulate Sinner for playing a great match, great tournament so far,” said Djokovic. “He’s deservedly in the finals. He outplayed me completely today.
This tournament hasn’t been up to my standard or criteria or the level that I would normally play or expect myself to play, but doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s beginning of the end as some people like to call it.
Look, I was, in a way, shocked with my level in a bad way. There was not much I was doing right in the first two sets.
“I guess this is one of the worst Grand Slam matches I’ve ever played, at least that I remember.
“Not a very pleasant feeling playing this way. But at the same time credit to him for doing everything better than me in every aspect of the game.”
Djokovic struggled with illness at the start of the fortnight and had a tougher passage through to the last four than usual, losing three sets along the way despite putting on his best performance against Adrian Mannarino for the loss of three games in the fourth round.
“The whole tournament I haven’t really played close to my best,” admitted the world No 1. “The match against Mannarino was great, but most of the matches I was not playing up to par the way I play here in Australia normally.
“So in a way it did surprise me, because I thought it won’t be that bad in the first two sets. But on the other hand, I didn’t feel really myself on the court during this tournament.
“One can say that the semi-finals is a great result but I always expect the highest of myself, and it wasn’t meant to be today.”
A long, long time ago…
The last time Djokovic didn’t break in a Grand Slam match (not including retirement or default) was at the 2006 US Open (Lleyton Hewitt).
The Serb added he still has “high hopes” for the rest of the season and the opportunity to win a record 25th Grand Slam title.
“It’s just the beginning of the season,” the 36-year-old said. “It kind of has been incredibly satisfying for me to start off most of my seasons with a Grand Slam win and never lose in semis or finals of Australian Open.
“So this time it’s a bit different, but it is what it is. Let’s see. This tournament hasn’t been up to my standard or criteria or the level that I would normally play or expect myself to play, but doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s beginning of the end as some people like to call it.
“Let’s see what happens for the rest of the season.”
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