Novak Djokovic's bid for a sixth ATP Finals crown ended in the semifinals as he lost to Alexander Zverev 6-7 (4), 6-4, 3-6. In his post-match conference, he spoke about his season, the upcoming Davis Cup, his relationship with Zverev, and his performance in the semifinal.
Djokovic praised Zverev's serve in particular. The German was able to get himself out of tight spots by serving well and showed why he's one of the best servers in the world.
"He's one of the best servers in the world, we decided before the match. He showed tonight why that is a fact. I mean, he got himself out of trouble few times with serve."
Djokovic thought he served pretty well in the match as well, but one bad game with some easy errors in the deciding set cost him the match. He had his chances to make a comeback, but squandered them too. Nevertheless, he enjoyed his time on the court and thought it was a high-quality match.
"I was serving pretty good, as well. I just had the one very bad game in the third set. Three forehand, one backhand unforced error, really from pretty easy position. Yeah, just wasted really the match in that game. Even though I thought it was quite even, had some chances to come back, 2-4 down in the third, just missed again, a forehand long. Yeah, tough match. But I enjoyed it. I thought it was a really good battle, really high-quality tennis. We pushed each other, as we always do."
Djokovic further said that he and Zverev are good friends off-court and that they share a wonderful relationship, though it's difficult at times since they're such fierce rivals. The Serbian said that they talk about various things and he's always ready to mentor his younger friend.
"Sascha is also a friend off the court. We get along very well. Not easy to be very close obviously when you're rivals, playing that much against each other on the biggest stage. But we talk a lot about life, about a lot of different things. I'm always happy to share some of my experiences with him. We always had a wonderful relationship."
While the desire to win is strong in both of them, there's mutual respect as well. And for Djokovic, that's more important than winning or losing. He thinks Zverev is a great player and will be a Grand Slam winner soon.
"Of course, we want to win against each other, but there is that respect and appreciation for each other that is more important than win or lose. That's something that I always had with Sascha. I really appreciate that. I wish him all the best. He's a great guy, fantastic tennis player, I'm sure soon to be a Grand Slam champion."
In his post-match press conference, Djokovic remained tight-lipped about his Australian Open participation following confirmation that only vaccinated players will be allowed to play. He said that he hasn't kept in touch with the authorities there and was waiting for an official announcement regarding the matter.
"We'll see. We'll have to wait and see. I haven't been talking to them, to be honest. I was just waiting to hear what the news is going to be. Now that I know, we'll just have to wait and see."
Novak Djokovic proud of his season, motivated to play for Serbia in Davis Cup
Djokovic didn't attribute his semifinal loss to fatigue. He reiterated that he played a bad game in the deciding set and committed a few errors in a row that cost him the match. The world No. 1 said that mistakes such as those against a player like Zverev are difficult to recover from.
"I did not feel tired at all. I could have gone for another few hours, no problem. It was just a bad game, 2-1 down in the third set, a very bad game, four unforced errors. In the conditions like this where you have one of the biggest servers in the game, it's just difficult to come back from that. That's all it is."
Overall, Djokovic feels he has had a great season. While he didn't play in many tournaments, he still achieved a lot. Winning three Grand Slams and clinching a historic seventh year-end no. 1 ranking was phenomenal. He felt he could've done better in other ATP events, but winning the Paris Masters and making it to the semifinals in Turin are a good end to the season.
"Well, it was a great season, no doubt. I mean, I did not play many tournaments, but still managed to end the year at No. 1 for the seventh time, broke records for the year-end No. 1, historic No. 1, won three out of four slams. The year was phenomenal. Maybe could have done better in some other ATP events. But all in all really good ending of the season as well with a title in Paris and semifinals here."
Djokovic is happy with his current form and fancies his chances in the Davis Cup. He's very motivated to play for his country. But the tournament is a team event so he hopes that his teammates are ready to compete well too.
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"I like the way I'm playing. I like my chances against anybody in the Davis Cup really. I look forward to that. Obviously Davis Cup is a team competition. It doesn't depend on me only. We have to try to win another singles or at least one singles, one doubles. Yeah, it's a team effort. So hopefully the other guys are fit and ready. I'm very motivated to play for my country. Let's hope for the best."