Novak Djokovic suffered a bitter defeat on Saturday night in his Nitto ATP Finals semi-final to Alexander Zverev, but he still had a big smile on his face as he hugged the German at the net.
They are enemies on the field, but friends with a lot of respect whether they win or lose.
“Of course we want to win each other, but having respect and appreciation for each other is more important than winning or losing. That’s what I’ve always had with Sascha. I really appreciate that,” said Djokovic. “I wish him all the best. He is a great guy, a great tennis player, I will definitely be a Grand Slam champion soon.”
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Zverev also ended Djokovic’s dream of completing the Golden Slam earlier this year in the semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics. Although the Serbian was disappointed that he couldn’t win Turin and equaled Roger Federer’s record for most Nitto ATP Finals titles (6), he failed to show it off when he congratulated the champion. 2018.
“Sascha is also a friend off the field. We are very compatible. Obviously it’s not easy to be so close when you’re rivals, competing against each other so much on the biggest stage,” said Djokovic. “But we talk a lot about life, about a lot of different things. I am always happy to share some of my experiences with him. We have always had a great relationship. “
Djokovic dominated his serve for most of the match – he won 87% of his first serve, shot 15 aces and crashed only once. But Zverev also serves well, accounting for 63% of his second serve. One of those second serves came when the German faced a 4-2 break point in the third set, and he got out of trouble when the world No. neutral long sleeve.
“He’s one of the best hosts in the world… Tonight he showed why it’s true. He got himself out of trouble a few times with [his] serve,” said Djokovic. “I am also serving quite well. I just had a really bad game in the third set. Three forehands, an optional backhand, actually from pretty easy positions. [I] just really waste the match in that game. Although I think it was pretty even, there were some chances to come back, 2-4 down in the third inning, but missed again, a long forehand.
“[It was a] tough match. But I really like it. I think it was a really good fight, a high quality tennis match. We jostled each other, as we always do.”
The match lasted two hours and 28 minutes, but Djokovic was determined not to tire. He simply played a bad game in the decider and he paid the price.
“I could have gone a few more hours, no problem. It was just a bad game, being 2-1 down in the third set, a very bad game, four errors were not caught,” said Djokovic. “In conditions like this, where you have one of the biggest servers in the game, it’s hard to go back from there. That’s all there is to it.”
Djokovic still has an excellent season. In 2021, he broke Federer’s record for weeks at world No. 1 and topped the year-end FedEx ATP Rankings for the seventh time – surpassing his idol, Pete Sampras.
The Rolex Paris Masters champion also recently won three major titles at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon to draw with Federer and Rafael Nadal the most in history with 20. It was also his 10th ride. into the semi-finals of the season. final’s night.
“It has been a great season, no doubt. I haven’t played many tournaments, but still managed to finish the year at #1 for the seventh time, breaking records for year-end #1, historic #1, winning three out of total. [the] four Slams,” said Djokovic. “The year was extraordinary. Probably could have done better in some other ATP event. But it all comes down to a really good end to the season as well as the title in Paris and the semi-finals here. ”
https://www.atptour.com/en/news/djokovic-nitto-atp-finals-2021-sf-reaction Novak Djokovic reveals what is ‘more important than winning or losing’ | ATP Tour