Novak Djokovic makes an honest admission after his latest clay court setback

Novak Djokovic looking ahead

Novak Djokovic’s clay court campaign has not followed the script he would have expected and that was certainly the case as he lost to Aslan Karatsev in the longest ATP Tour match of the 2021 season at the Serbia Open.

The world No.1 conceded he was beaten by the better man as he went down to a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 defeat, suffering a rare reverse on home soil.

After a loss against Britain’s Dan Evans at the Monte-Carlo Masters earlier this month, Djokovic’s French Open preparations are not going to plan and he was in philopshical mood as he faced the media.

“You never like losing at home, that is for sure. It is disappointing. I don’t feel so great now but, at the same time, I have to congratulate Karatsev who played very bravely,” said Djokovic. “Whenever he needed to come up with the best shots, he did. Congratulations to him. [It was an] awesome performance from his side.”

“From my side, I played on quite a low level, in my opinion. I had some flashes of good quality tennis. I was fighting. That is a positive. I was really trying all the way [and] the crowd was great.

“They carried me and tried to lift me up, all the way to the end. Because of them, I think I won the second set. Unfortunately in the third, he was just the better player in the decisive moments. I had my chances, but that is sport.

Karatsev showed a lot of courage and that is why I gave him the thumbs up.I felt like he deserved to win.

“Once the final point is done, there is never bad blood. We are rivals on the court, but I don’t hate anybody. I can’t be upset with him if he beat me. I have to be upset with myself and question why I lost the match. Whoever beats me deserves the credit and I gave him that.”

“It is disappointing [to] finish the week like this at home. I lost to a better player who was just more courageous.

“He went for his shots at the right time and it worked for him. Nevertheless, it was good week and a successful tournament, in general, for us.”

Karatsev then lost another thriller in the final as he was beaten in a deciding set tie break by Matteo Berrettini, but the bigger story emerging from Serbia has to be the uncertain form of the local legend. 

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