Novak Djokovic Reflects on Melbourne Meltdown: 'Worst Match at Majors!'

Novak Djokovic lost to Jannik Sinner in the Australian Open semi-final

by Jovica Ilic
Novak Djokovic Reflects on Melbourne Meltdown: 'Worst Match at Majors!'
© Graham Denholm / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic candidly characterized his performance in Friday's Australian Open as one of the worst in his illustrious Major career. World no. 1 suffered a comprehensive semi-final defeat at the hands of Jannik Sinner, with the Italian securing a 6-1, 6-2, 6-7, 6-3 victory and becoming the first player to beat the Serb at this event since 2018.

After collecting over 400 matches at Majors over the previous 19 years, Novak's statement carries a special weight, reflecting his frustration after playing shockingly badly. Djokovic could not do much against such a strong rival and extend his streak of 33 consecutive Melbourne Park triumphs.

The Serb's start was reminiscent of his 2005 Rod Laver Arena debut at the age of 17, as he managed to secure just three games in the opening two sets, losing them in no time. Although the defending champion exhibited a surge in the third set, breaking Jannik's serve remained elusive.

Djokovic fought valiantly, even defending a match point in the tie break to force the fourth set, fueling hopes of a complete comeback. However, Sinner showcased unwavering focus, securing a break against world no. 1 in the fourth set and ultimately closing out the match in style.

Jannik's effectiveness was particularly evident in his serving display, dominating with his first serve and ensuring the second remained secure. Djokovic, on the other hand, struggled throughout, failing to create a single break chance in a completed Major match for the first time in his career!

The statistics painted a stark picture, with Djokovic committing over 50 unforced errors and conceding serve five times out of 11 opportunities presented to his opponent.

Novak Djokovic & Jannik Sinner, Australian Open 2024© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

While Djokovic held a slim advantage in mid-range and extended exchanges, Sinner's prowess in shorter rallies proved decisive, as he claimed nearly twice as many points against the rival who usually shines in that segment.

The Italian's tactical brilliance and Djokovic's uncharacteristic errors ultimately shaped the outcome of this memorable semi-final clash and presented a first-time Major finalist. Jannik made a strong start, serving well in the opener and gaining a boost after an early break.

The Italian moved in front with a forehand drive-volley winner in game two and created another chance in game four. Djokovic denied it with a forehand winner and held, reducing the deficit to 3-1. Novak had to dig deep behind the initial shot again at 1-4, hitting a loose backhand and falling 5-1 behind.

Novak Djokovic felt shocked by his terrible performance against Jannik Sinner.

Jannik served well in the seventh game and delivered his fourth comfortable hold after forcing Novak's forehand error, securing the opener 6-1 in 35 minutes.

Nothing changed in the second set despite Djokovic landing in 75% of the first serve. Sinner lost four points in his games and grabbed two more breaks, forging a massive advantage. Novak hit a loose backhand in the third game, falling behind and allowing Jannik to cement the lead with a service winner in the next one.

The Italian delivered another fine hold in game six and pushed strong on the return at 4-2. Novak faced two break points and sprayed a forehand error on the second, propelling his opponent 5-2 in front. Sinner held in the eighth game after a forced error, moving two sets to love in front after only 73 minutes.

Jannik netted a backhand on a break point in the third set's first game. Novak recovered his game behind the initial shot, creating no chances on the return but remaining in touch.

Novak Djokovic, Australian Open 2024© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Sinner served to stay in the set at 5-6 and hit a smash winner to introduce a tie break.

Djokovic led 4-2 before Sinner reduced the gap and moved 5-4 in front with a forehand winner. Novak grabbed the tenth point with a lob winner before Jannik created a match point with a service winner at 5-5. Djokovic denied it with a forced error and clinched the breaker 8-6 after Sinner's backhand mistake, extending his chances after two and a half hours.

Jannik made a fresh start and served well in the fourth set. He wasted three break points in the second game and made another strong push at 2-1 from 0-40. Novak blew a massive advantage and offered Jannik a break chance with a double fault.

The Serb sprayed a backhand error, losing serve and falling 3-1 behind. Djokovic served to stay in the match at 2-5 and held at love, prolonging the battle and hoping for his first return chance in game nine. He moved 30-15 ahead before Jannik fired two service winners and converted a match point with a forehand down the line winner, celebrating his career-best victory.

Jannik Sinner, Australian Open 2024© Cameron Spencer / Staff - Getty Images Sport

"My level came as a shock, and not in a good way. I did almost everything wrong in the opening two sets, and this has to be one of the worst performances at Majors.

I have to give credit to Jannik; he outplayed me in every aspect. I could not find my A-game at this event, except for that match against Adrian. I did not feel myself on the court, and the semi-final must be a good result in those circumstances.

However, I always expect to perform at the highest level, but it was not to be for me today," Novak Djokovic said.

Novak Djokovic Jannik Sinner Australian Open