PERTH, Australia (AFP) –
Defending Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic suffered a shock defeat at the hands of young local Bernard Tomic at the mixed-teams Hopman Cup on Wednesday.
The world number one will be aiming for his third straight Australian Open title in Melbourne later this month, and the Hopman setback was his first defeat on Australian soil since 2010.
Djokovic, looking a little rusty at the start of a new year, was broken in the ninth game of each set in losing 6-4, 6-4 to the gifted 20-year-old.
It was the first time the Serbian had been beaten by the enigmatic Tomic, ranked 52nd in the world, in four official meetings.
Tomic, who reached a career-high ranking of 27 last June but also endured a late-season form slump along with several on and off-court dramas in 2012, did beat Djokovic in a light-hearted exhibition match at Kooyong in 2010.
Djokovic, 25, said he wasn’t overly concerned by the loss, having arrived in Perth only a few days ago after winning in Abu Dhabi.
“He played really well and deserved to win,” he said.
“I knew I was coming here to Australia very late and it takes me time to get used to it. I know I am not close to my maximum, but I expected that.
“I was always on the back foot and he was the better player.”
Djokovic said he was fully aware of Tomic’s talent, after the Australian reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in 2011 and the fourth round at last year’s Australian Open.
“He is right up there with the up-and-coming players, he is very talented,” he said of Tomic.
“He knows the game well and tactically plays very well for someone his age. He definitely has the game.”
Tomic called it the best win of his career.
“I would say so, I played a very, very good match,” he said.
“The training is paying off, it is a huge feeling. I am still improving and I have got a lot more to improve.
“This is a good sign and I have to continue to play like this.”