Novak Djokovic made good on his promise to turn out for Serbia in the Davis Cup just five days after his US Open win in New York, yet he had a big issue with the conditions in his match against Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Valencia.
World No 1 Djokovic booked Serbia’s place in the 2023 Davis Cup Final 8 with a 6-3 6-4 win over Davidovich Fokina in front of a packed house at the Pabellon Fuente de San Luis in Valencia, with the 24-time Grand Slam champion admitted he was overjoyed after a perfect few days on the court.
“I’m on cloud nine with everything that has happened recently on the tennis court,” said Djokovic.
“Playing for Serbia, for my country, is something completely different. It’s a huge responsibility and pressure, but it’s also a privilege and an honour.”
There was a problem for both Djokovic and his opponent in Valencia, with the heat inside the arena a point of contention in the opening set.
“I heard the fans asking for air especially in the first set because the temperature was not normal in the stadium,” said Djokovic.
“I told my team and the organization if it was possible to put the air in and in the second set they opened the doors and it went better.
“I was also wondering about the air, I understand that the Spanish public asked for more air circulation inside the stadium.”
Djokovic admitted his preparation for the Davis Cup match was not ideal, as he flew from New York to Serbia to celebrate his US Open win and then had short only a few sessions before taking to the court.
“I have trained three times here, it is not easy to get used to playing indoors and the speed after the US Open,” he continued.
“At first Alejandro was motivated, with a very tactical game, with a lot of support from the stands, at the beginning I didn’t feel comfortable, but my serve has helped me a lot.
“In the game that decided the winner of the first set, it was very long, although I played well, I was solid.
“In the second set I played very aggressively, I didn’t have much time to think about tactics on court, that’s why it’s difficult to play with Alejandro, but in the last five games I’ve been perfect, I’ve been more efficient in my game in the service.”
Djokovic faced familiar hostility from the stands in this Davis Cup tie, but this time it was not animosity towards the greatest player of all-time.
Instead, it was a Spanish crowd cheering on their own player and Djokovic appreciated the atmosphere created by the fans.
“Obviously the public supported the Spanish tennis player, but they have shown me a lot of respect and I have been grateful,” he added.
Djokovic was due to play in Serbia’s final Davis Cup game, but that appearance may now be in doubt after Viktor Troicki’s side booked their place in the finals in Malaga in November with this victory against Spain.
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