“Cannot Be Upset With My Opponent”: Novak Djokovic Reflects on What Went Wrong at Serbia Open 2021

Published 04/25/2021, 6:22 AM EDT
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Monte Carlo Masters – Monte-Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France – April 14, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in action during his second round match against Italy’s Jannik Sinner REUTERS/Eric Gaillard


Serbian tennis superstar Novak Djokovic has opened up on accepting defeat with grace and being appreciative of his victorious opponent even when he is angry with himself. The World No.1 fluffed 23 breakpoint opportunities in a shock loss to Russian Aslan Karatsev in the Serbia Open semifinals on Saturday.

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It was his first loss in his homeland since 2005 and marked his second straight unflattering run on clay after the Monte-Carlo defeat. However, even after slumping to a loss in the marathon three-setter, the Serb extended a warm handshake to his Russian slayer.

Novak Djokovic says he was raised to accept defeat with humility

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Speaking to reporters after the match, Djokovic said that’s how he has been taught to take losses – with humility – and be gracious to his opponents.

“Well, I’m upset with myself, but I cannot be upset with my opponent – he was just better. That’s how I’ve been brought up and that’s how I feel is right to kind of think about this kind of act at the end of the match: you just shake hands, you congratulate your opponent for winning against you,” the Serb said.

Sharing his thoughts on the match, which will go down as one the longest in Tour history, the reigning Australian Open champion said that his opponent showed a “lot of courage” in saving as many breakpoints as he did and eventually turning the match in his favor.

“…that’s why I gave him a thumbs-up – because I felt he deserved to win,” Djokovic said.

Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Monte Carlo Masters – Monte-Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France – April 14, 2021, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in action during his second-round match against Italy’s Jannik Sinner REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Novak Djokovic says Aslan Karatsev pulled out his big shots when he needed to

Djokovic added that both players were giving it their all and the Russian pulled out his big shots when he needed to and they came good. The Serb said there’s no bad blood between rivals and once a match is done, one has to acknowledge the opponent’s effort.

“Once the final point is done…there’s obviously never bad blood. We’re rivals on court but I don’t hate anybody,” the World No.1 said.

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He added that even as he looks inwards and introspects on why he lost, he never shies away from giving credit where it’s due.

“I have been upset with myself and questioned myself why I lost the match, but…whoever beats me deserves credit and I give him that,” the Serb said.

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DIVE DEEPER

“Wasn’t Thinking”: Aslan Karatsev Opens Up on Saving 23 Breakpoints in Freak Win Over Novak Djokovic

5 months ago

However, the second straight loss on clay ahead of the French Open will have deepened the worries in the Djokovic camp.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

1101 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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