Tue 2 Feb - Sat 6 Feb 2021

Match Reaction Djokovic Praises Serbia's Fight After ATP Cup Exit

UpdatedFeb 5, 2021

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was full of praise for his teammates on Friday, as Serbia's bid to retain the ATP Cup trophy ended at the hands of Germany in Group A.

“It’s unfortunate we lost the tie,” said Djokovic, after playing singles and doubles matches in the tie on Rod Laver Arena. “That’s what this competition is all about. It’s about the team, not about winning one match, [a] singles match. We’ll try another time.”

Jan-Lennard Struff got Germany off to a strong start by beating Dusan Lajovic 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, then Djokovic edged past Alexander Zverev 6-7(3), 6-2, 7-5 in the second singles match. Struff and Zverev then combined to beat Nikola Cacic and Djokovic 7-6(4), 5-7, 10-7 in the deciding doubles match at Melbourne Park.

When asked what was the difference, Serbia’s captain Viktor Troicki, said: “Three points. That was [a] really unlucky day. Three close matches. At the end, we lost in a [Match] Tie-break in doubles. We gave our best… The boys were fighting. I'm proud of them. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. That's how it goes in tennis… Nikola played well, Novak played unbelievable.”

Djokovic, who is now 9-0 in singles matches at the ATP Cup, thought his singles victory over Zverev was played at a particularly high level. “It was a great match,” said Djokovic. “I thought Sascha was serving terrific, both singles and doubles today. He was a set up… I just returned well when I needed to and closed out the match.

“We both got very tight, I think, [in] the last three games. He dropped his serve two times, I dropped my serve one time, match point, [and] lost that. I also came back in the last game, 6-5 in the third. It was a close one. I was 15/30 down and hit a big serve, almost 200km/h to his forehand. He was serving tremendously well, big second serves. It's never easy playing against Sascha when he's in form, and he's in really good form. We pushed each other to the very limit, and I'm glad that I had such a battle with him.”

Djokovic went on to praise his doubles partner, Cacic. “I'd say a big thanks to Nikola for fighting [in the doubles]. He showed a great spirit today. It was not easy finding yourself in a situation like this, obviously with no experience, and being in the national team for the first time in such an important match. So credit to him for believing, fighting and bringing good energy on the court.”

Cacic, 30, added, “It was a big pleasure to play with Novak, to be in the team. It was an exciting match. In the [Match] Tie-break I felt a little bit of pressure.”

Serbia finished with a 1-1 record in Group A. The 202 champion defeated Canada 2-1 on Tuesday.