Novak Djokovic paid tribute to opponent Holger Rune after beating him at the US Open, saying he earned his respect.
Djokovic opened his US Open campaign with a clash against the impressive 18-year-old, who took a set from the world number one before severely cramping.
That left Djokovic free to ease to a 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 success, but he wanted to make sure his opponent got all the credit he deserved.
“It’s never nice to finish the match the way we finished today,” Djokovic said.
“[Rune] is a great guy and one of the up-and-coming stars. He’s going to come back stronger and I’m sure we’re going to see a lot of him in the future.”
“He kept going with dignity, he deserved my respect and respect of a lot of people.”
Djokovic was short of his own best in the first two sets, and he admits he has a little work to do if he is to win what would be a record 21st major title and a first ATP Tour Calendar Slam for more than 50 years.
“I was trying to feel the ball out there,” Djokovic admitted.
“It wasn’t the best of my performances. At the same time he played well in the second set when it mattered and I didn’t serve well in the decisive moments.”
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