Novak Djokovic loses Serbian Open final to Andrey Rublev, says he was sick

Novak Djokovic ran out of gas and referred to a previous “illness” when he fell in three sets to his Russian rival at the Serbian Open.

Novak Djokovic was denied his first title of the year on Monday (AEST), the world number one admitting he “ran out of gas” in a three-set loss to Russia’s Andrey Rublev in the Serbian Open final.

Second seed Rublev won 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 6-0 against the top seed looking to return to winning form ahead of his French Open title defense next month.

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The Belgrade event in his hometown was only Djokovic’s third of 2022 after he was deported from Melbourne, denied the chance to defend his Australian Open title, after entering the country without vaccinations.

However, despite the 20-time Grand Slam winner being disappointed by his lack of fitness, he remains optimistic in his bid to capture a third French Open crown.

“Things are progressing slowly but surely, Paris is the big goal and hopefully I will be ready for Paris,” the two-time Serbian Open winner said.

The 34-year-old, who lost in the quarter-finals in Dubai and suffered an upset second-round loss in Monte Carlo, outlasted Laslo Djere, Miomir Kecmanovic and Karen Khachanov in straight sets before court time reached the best. seed against Rublev.

He also apologized for his breakdown and suggested that the “illness” that hit him recently might be taking its toll.

“I apologize for the way the third set went. It’s an individual sport, when something fails, the engine can’t work,” Djokovic said.

“It is a bit worrying, I can only assume that it is due to the illness that affected me a few weeks ago. But I have to look at the positives, I have won three one-set matches down.

“I have to see the positive aspects, playing the final in front of my home crowd, it was unfortunate that in the third set I ran out of gas and couldn’t put up any more of a fight.

“After four three-set battles, I can say that I am tired but also happy that I managed to win the matches before this one.

“I think that will serve me well for the continuation of the clay court season.”

Djokovic got off to a bad start, losing serve twice and losing the first set after half an hour.

Buoyed by the support of the 8,000-strong crowd, Djokovic fought back in a marathon second set that lasted just over an hour, leveling in the tiebreak despite wasting six set points, before running out of steam in the third.

Rublev captured his third title of the season, days after criticizing Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players as “total discrimination”.

Wimbledon banned all Russian and Belarusian players from this summer’s Grand Slam tournament due to the Ukraine invasion.

It was a decision condemned by the ATP and WTA, as well as a host of players, including Djokovic, who described the ban as “crazy”.

Rublev has now equaled Spain’s Rafael Nadal for the most tour-level titles in 2022, also winning crowns in Marseille and Dubai in February.

“For sure he wasn’t at his high level, maybe mid level,” Rublev said of Djokovic.

“In the third set I was very lucky that I couldn’t break and I was really tired.”

Originally posted when Novak Djokovic apologizes, references ‘illness’ after running out of gas in final

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