‘I am progressing slowly but surely,’ says Novak Djokovic after Serbian final defeat

Novak Djokovic admitted he was tired after his Serbian Open final defeat to Andrey Rublev but says he is making progress and looking at the positives.

Djokovic has had a difficult year so far following the well-documented Australian Open situation in January where he was prevented from playing due to covid-19 vaccination reasons.

The world number one has only played three tournaments since then, losing in the quarter final in Dubai and suffering a shock first round exit in Monte Carlo before competing in his home tournament in Serbia.

And after winning three challenging three-set matches to reach the Serbian Final, Djokovic couldn’t go all the way losing in the third set to world number eight Andrey Rublev.

Despite the loss, Djokovic was encouraged by his overall performance in Belgrade and said he hopes his progress will continue.

“I have to look at the positives, I played the final in front of my home crowd,” Djokovic said in his post-match press conference.

“It was unfortunate that in the third set I ran out of gas 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 for a reason.

“I could have easily lost in the first match, so after four tough three-set battles all I can say is I am tired. Winning the tough three-set battles before this match will serve me well for the continuation of the season.”

The Serbian came back from a set down in the final to take the second set to a tie break, but then faded in the final set, losing 2-6, 7-6, 0-6.

“I didn’t feel too tired until the end of the second set,” Djokovic said after the match.

“The 5-4 game was a long game and that is when I started to not feel great. I think I played well in the tie-break.

“I came out ready to fight another set, but it wasn’t [a] very pleasant 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.

“At least this bad feeling physically came in the fourth match rather than the first match in Monte Carlo,” Djokovic said. “Things are progressing slowly but surely.”

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