Novak Djokovic admits he had “some tightness here and there” during his Paris Masters final clash against Holger Rune, but won’t use it as an excuse for his defeat.
On the back of winning the Tel Aviv Open and Astana Open, Djokovic was looking for his third ATP trophy in as many tournaments and he bulldozed his way into the semi-final with three straight set wins before seeing off Stefanos Tsitsipas in three sets in the last eight.
The 21-time Grand Slam winner was odds-on favourite to beat Rune on Sunday with the teenager playing in his maiden ATP Masters final, and he comfortably won the opening set before the Dane hit back. Djokovic then found himself 3-1 and 30-0 up in the third set, but the 19-year-old broke back and then claimed another break in game 11 to secure the biggest win of his career.
The 35-year-old struggled physically in the decider and appeared to have a leg problem, but insisted it was nothing serious.
“I don’t want to talk about that, because I know that you guys might take that as, you know, excuse or something like this why I lost,” he said.
“No, everything was okay. I mean, it’s normal that when you play day after day and you have some tightness here and there, but I didn’t have an injury. I fought till the last moment. So it wasn’t to be for me today.”
Djokovic knows he needs to be fully fit for his next assignment as the ATP Finals starts in Turin next Monday. He last won the season-ending event in 2015, finishing runner-up in 2016 and 2018 while last year he exited at the semi-final stage.
The world No 8 is good to go for the event and he is determined to be the last man standing again that will see him draw level with Roger Federer on six ATP Finals titles.
“Every tournament is important at this stage of my career. Anywhere I play, I try to win. That’s not a secret,” he said.
“That’s kind of my mentality and approach coming into Torino. I feel very good on the court. You know, I think I’m playing very, very good tennis.
“Of course I’m disappointed with the loss, but I was very close. It was just very few points that decided a winner. But the level of tennis that I’m playing is high, and I like my chances. You know, of course every match is like finals there. You know, there is no easy matches.
“You’ve got to be fit, fresh. Good thing is that you have a day between every match in the group stage, so you have time to recover between each match, which is good.
“I played there last year. Played really good tennis. Played semis, tight match against Zverev, who was eventual champion. So I know that the conditions are different. The ball is flying more because it’s altitude. It’s quite fast. You’ve got to serve well. I’ll be there some days before to train, and hopefully be at my best.”
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