Novak Djokovic loses a match in which he manages to exploit only five of the twenty-eight break points available. Novak Djokovic loses a match that almost lives a life of its own for three hours and twenty-six minutes. After the outings with Soon-woo Kwon and Miomir Kecmanovic, the number one of the big group - within the walls of his home - loses against a possessed Aslan Karatsev.
A character who in the semi-final on the blue of Melbourne Park a handful of months ago had collected the misery of nine games. The Russian not only plays a giant game - and a giant one - but above all has the great merit of always, always, stuck to the score.
So much when he seems one step away from the finish line, so much when he seems one step away from the brink. In a challenge that from a genuinely technical point of view only takes off on the sunset of the second set (moment in which the Serbian breaks the balance with three scary winners) Karatsev stoically manages not to be influenced when he has the first match point on the ropes and especially to buffer the almost desperate situation of 15-40 that is created in the final.
Following the defeat, Novak Djokovic asserted that Roland Garros is his biggest goal during the European clay swing this summer. He did admit, however, that has to work on his game in the coming weeks if he hopes to contend for the trophy in Paris.
Djokovic asserted that Roland Garros is his biggest goal
"You never like losing at home, that's for sure," Novak Djokovic said. "It's painful, it's disappointing, I don't feel so great now.
At the same time, I have to congratulate Karatsev who played very bravely. Awesome performance from him. Djokovic went on to shower rich praise on Karatsev, admitting that he was the "better player" when it mattered the most.
The Serb also took some solace in the fact that he kept fighting despite his own struggles combined with the tremendously high level of his opponent. "From my side, I played again on a quite low level. Just some flashes of some good quality tennis," Novak Djokovic said.
"I was fighting, I mean that's a positive. I was trying all the way, the crowd was great, they tried to lift me up all the way till the end. Because of them, I think I won the second set. Unfortunately in the third he was just the better player - in the decisive moments. I had my chances, but, you know, that's sport."