18-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic showed his class on and off the court after losing to Aslan Karatsev as he spoke positively of the Russian and gave him credit for his performance. Karatsev, who made a stunning run to the Australian Open semifinal as a qualifier in February, absolutely shocked No.
1 seed Djokovic 7-5 4-6 6-4 to reach the Belgrade final. World No. 1 Djokovic was the absolute favorite to win it all this week and the local crowd was hoping to see the Serb on the winning podium but rising Russian Karatsev had other plans.
"Patriculaly, in today's performance, Karatsev showed a lot of courage and that's why I gave him a thumbs-up -- because I felt like he deserved to win. You know, we were both fighting all the way through and, but he just went for his shots when he needed it and he came up with the goods," Djokovic said, per Ana Mitric.
Karatsev also spoke positively of Djokovic
“It was a long, tough match [against a] tough opponent,” Karatsev said in his post-match press conference. “You have to put [in] like 200 per cent to beat this guy, it’s like playing against a wall.
And he also made some good shots. He doesn’t give you any free points. He always makes you play and you have to be always there because once you miss a couple of shots, he just takes it very quickly. That’s how I lost the second set.
“I stepped on the court to win. I was believing [in myself], and I said to myself that I would play every ball no matter what,” Karatsev said. “I tried to keep this strategy that we spoke about with the coach. You have to fight for every ball, that was the key to success”.