Novak Djokovic Humble in Defeat: 'Jannik Sinner Outplayed Me'

Novak Djokovic experienced the Australian Open semi-final loss

by Jovica Ilic
Novak Djokovic Humble in Defeat: 'Jannik Sinner Outplayed Me'
© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

World no. 1 Novak Djokovic is seeking his first title of the season in Indian Wells, returning to the desert for the first time in five years. Novak talked about his Australian Open campaign and the semi-final loss to Jannik Sinner, giving more details about his preparations for 2024 and praising his conqueror.

Djokovic wrote history books again in 2023, winning three Major titles from four finals and terminating the GOAT race. Also, he lifted seven ATP trophies and wrapped up the season as the year-end no. 1 player for the eighth time.

Novak needed more time than usual to recharge his batteries and prepare for the new season. He struggled with a wrist injury at the United Cup and did not find his A-game in Melbourne outside rounds three and four.

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

Djokovic reached the semi-final but could not do much against an inspired Sinner, who dethroned a ten-time champion 6-1, 6-2, 6-7, 6-3 in three hours and 22 minutes.

Jannik toppled Novak two times within ten days in the closing stages of 2023. He used that momentum in Melbourne and dominated the world's best player en route to his first Major final. Djokovic suffered his first loss after passing the quarter-final stage in Melbourne, saving a match point in the third set but losing serve once in the fourth, pushing the young gun over the top.

Jannik delivered Novak's first Australian Open loss since 2018, playing rock-solid tennis from start to finish and celebrating his career-best victory. Djokovic prevailed over Taylor Fritz in three hours and 45 minutes in the quarter-final and had nothing left in the tank for such a strong rival, losing the opening two sets in no time and failing to recover.

The Italian had the upper hand in every segment, serving well and leaving the Serb far behind in the shortest range up to four strokes. Sinner tamed his strokes nicely and welcomed over 50 unforced errors from Djokovic.

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

Novak Djokovic praised Jannik Sinner and his Australian Open performance.

Novak could only do a little in the return games, failing to create a break chance for the first time in completed matches at Majors. The Serb played against 11 break points, getting broken five times and ending his campaign in the semi-final.

Jannik was off to a better start, giving him a considering boost. Sinner broke Djokovic in the second game of the match with a forehand drive-volley winner and fired a service winner a few minutes later for 3-0. With nothing working his way, Novak played against another break chance in the fourth game.

He saved it with a forehand winner and held, bringing his name to the scoreboard. Jannik served well in the fifth game and pushed strong on the return in the next one, welcoming Novak's backhand error and forging a massive 5-1 advantage.

The young gun produced another fine hold in game seven, wrapping up the opener in 35 minutes and gaining a boost. Sinner stood as the only player in the second set, serving well and clinching two breaks despite Djokovic landing in 75% of the first serve.

Novak served at 1-1 and sprayed a backhand error, losing serve and extending his poor run. Jannik cemented the lead with a powerful serve in game four, doing everything right and controlling the scoreboard. Sinner moved 4-2 up and chased another break in game seven.

It came after Djokovic's forehand error, with the Italian opening a 5-2 gap and serving for the set in game eight. Jannik held after deuce, moving 6-1, 6-2 in front in 73 minutes and looking good to seal the deal in set number three.

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

Novak denied a break point in the early stage of the third set and recovered his game behind the initial shot. Jannik served well in games eight and ten, and Novak moved 6-5 up after deuces in game 11.

Sinner introduced a tie break with a smash winner in game 12, keeping the pressure on the other side. Novak made a strong start and opened a 4-2 lead. Jannik stayed composed, erasing the deficit and landing a forehand winner for 5-4, standing two points away from the win.

The Serb locked them at 5-5 with a lob winner before the Italian created a match point with an unreturned serve. Djokovic saved it with a forced error and claimed three straight points, stealing the breaker 8-6 and keeping himself in contention after two and a half hours.

Trusting his shots, Sinner made a fresh start in the fourth set and created two break chances in the second game. Djokovic denied them and held, avoiding an early setback. However, Novak wasted a 40-0 lead in the fourth game, facing a break point after a double fault and placing a backhand long to experience the crucial break and fall 3-1 behind.

Jannik overcame rare deuces in the fifth game, confirming the lead and moving closer to the finish line.

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

Djokovic reduced the deficit to 4-2 before Sinner held at love with a serve & volley a few minutes later, forcing world no.

1 to serve to stay in the match. Novak produced a fine hold in game eight, reducing the deficit and hoping for his first return chances at 3-5. The Serb moved 30-15 up before the Italian fired two service winners, earning his second match point.

Jannik sealed the deal with a forehand down the line winner, dethroning the Melbourne king and booking a place in his first Major final. "I achieved incredible records in 2023. It took a lot from me, and I did not have time to rest and prepare for the start of 2024 as I would normally.

I did not play my best tennis in Australia, but it is what it is. Jannik was far better than me in the semi-final," Novak Djokovic said.

Novak Djokovic Jannik Sinner Australian Open