- Novak Djokovic was beaten 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-0 by Andrey Rublev in the final of the Serbia Open and as a result, he has issued an apology to his fans
- Djokovic, the defending French Open champion, stated that he is still working on his health and is pleased with his recent performance
- The Serb then apologized to his fans and the home supporters for his one-sided performance in the final set, as he failed to win a game
- World No. 1 emphasized that his focus now is on preparing for the French Open next month
After losing the Serbia Open final to Andrey Rublev in the decider, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic apologized to his home audience and blamed his recent “illness.”
Djokovic was competing in his third ATP event of the season, continuing his clay-court preparations ahead of the French Open next month.
The Serbian beat Laslo Djere, Miomir Kecmanovic, and Karen Khachanov to reach the final in Belgrade after losing to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his first encounter in Monte Carlo the week before.
The second seed is Rublev won the first set 6-2, but Djokovic levelled the match by winning the second-set tie-break 7-4. However, the 34-year-old “ran out of steam” in the final set, losing 6-0.
“I didn’t feel too tired until the end of the second set,” Djokovic said afterwards. “The 5-4 game was long, and that is when I started not to feel great. I think I played well in the tie-break.
“I came out ready to fight another set, but it wasn’t a charming thing for people to see on the court, so I am sorry for that kind of experience as I knew people wanted to see me fight and try and win. But it wasn’t to be this time.
“It’s an individual sport; the engine can’t work when something fails. It’s a bit problematic;
“I can only assume it’s because of the illness that hit me a few weeks ago. But I have to look at the positives; I’ve won three matches from a set down.”
Djokovic is pleased with his recent performance
All four of Djokovic’s matches in Serbia went to three sets, so that he may be relieved from the tough week in Serbia.
The defending French Open champion is still working on his health, but he is pleased with his
“After four three-set battles, I can say that I am tired but also pleased that I managed to win the matches before this one. I think that will serve me to continue the clay-court season.”
Djokovic added: “I have to look at the positives. [I] played the final in front of my home crowd.
“It was unfortunate that I ran out of gas in the third set and couldn’t give it more of a fight.
“Congrats to Andrey for playing another great week. He is at the top of the men’s game and one of the best players.
“I could have easily lost in the first match, so after four tough three-set battles, I am tired. Winning the tough three-set battles before this match will serve me well for the continuation of the season.
“At least this bad feeling physically came in the fourth match rather than the first match in Monte Carlo. Things are progressing slowly but surely.”
After his loss, Djokovic was philosophical, emphasizing that his focus now is on preparing for the French Open next month.
The world No. 1 will be seeking to defend his French Open title. In contrast, Rublev, who has now won three titles this season, was eliminated in the first round last year by Jan-Lennard Struff and will be hoping to collect ranking points by carrying his momentum into Paris and aiming for a deep run.
“Things are progressing slowly but surely, Paris is the big goal, and hopefully, by Paris, I’ll be ready,” said Djokovic
Meanwhile, Rublev called his third tour-level win of the season “really special” after the world No. 8 won the Serbia Open on his debut.
“It is big to play against you and share the court for the second time,” Rublev said. “I hope we have more battles. I feel so great here, and it is a very nice city. It feels really special.
“I want to say a big thanks to all the spectators for supporting all the players all week. To see full crowds again is special for all of us.”