Following his first loss of the season, Novak Djokovic had nothing but nice things to say about Andy Murray. Murray beat Djokovic 62, 75 in the Dubai Duty Free semifinals ending Djokovic’s 18-match win streak at the event.
Novak had won the last three titles in the desert and he undefeated on the season, but Murray, behind an aggressive gameplan and a strong service display overpowered the Serb.
Here’s Djokovic post-match presser:
Q. We’ve seen you come back from those kind of positions so often. We thought you were going to do it again. Did you think you were going to do it again?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I thought so. You know, I was fighting for it, but, you know, Andy played a great match. He was the better player today. He was serving really well. I made a lot of unforced errors when it was important.
But, look, this is sport. It’s normal that in some matches you can’t pull out your best when you need to.
Q. You came at the net many times today. More than usual. What was your thought…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I tried to be more aggressive, but I did that because I didn’t feel really comfortable from the baseline, you know. I wasn’t really moving well, you know.
Yeah, I didn’t have much rhythm.
Q. You said you made a lot of unforced errors today. Why was that, do you think?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, probably because of him as well. He makes you play an extra shot always. He was returning really well.
I thought I served okay, you know, but he was getting a lot balls back. You know, 4‑2, first set, I had break balls and I didn’t use that.
So then after that he gained confidence and momentum and was playing much better.
Q. How difficult is it to maintain such a tremendous standard that you’ve delivered over the last 12 months.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You know, I mean, it’s a new year for me. It’s been a great tournament here in Dubai. Look forward to Indian Wells, Miami, which are next tournaments, next challenges.
I think I have more than enough time to get ready for it.
Q. You took a bit of time off after Melbourne. Do you feel like you’re still feeling your way back in?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I’m feeling good on the court, aside of this match. I mean, some parts of this match I played well, but he was just the better player. So I have to congratulate him on that.
But generally I feel good, physically, mentally, you know. It’s just the start of the season. You know, some 1000 events coming up which are really important, and I need to get ready.
Q. When we had the preview presser you talked about the awards ceremonies and doing a lot of off‑the‑court stuff. When I talked to Martin Kaymer, he said he struggled with all the distractions. Is that something you’re still coping with?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I thought I’ve been doing well since Wimbledon last year. You know, I been having a lot off‑court activities since I became No. 1, but I have a team of people that controls it well.
Obviously there is a lot of temptations and a lot of things that you can enjoy. But it’s normal. You know, you can’t on one hand just be 100% of your life in the tennis. You know, you are young. You have to enjoy life. You have to experience some other things, you know.
We’re not imprisoned I think in a way, I think. We do play tennis. It’s a very requiring sport, especially now. It’s very high intensity. You have to be committed to the sport as much as you can. You have to be professional.
In my case, I like to balance the things. This is something that brought me a lot of success in the past.
Q. 6‑2, 5‑2 in an hour. At that point, how did you feel? Because that’s when you started coming back.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, in this surface, one game, one break can turn things around. So that was the case. I was waiting for my chance. I took it, but in the end I wasn’t managing to hold my serve.
On 6‑5 I made some really unforced errors. Look, he was the better player.
Q. I understand you don’t view this as a defense of your title, but you were going for four in a row having got the hat trick last year. How do you feel about relinquishing your grasp on the silverware here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s been a very successful tournament. I still feel that this week, playing semifinals is a good result, you know, under the circumstances. I lost to somebody that’s a top player, top quality player.
I move on. I take the best out of it and hope to play better next week.
Q. In the long run, do you think this might not be a bad thing losing today? It will stop all of us asking you how long you can stay unbeaten.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Maybe it’s a good thing. You guys asked me many times that question last year. Look, I wasn’t thinking about that too much. Just focusing every match.
Q. Andy seems to be improving. You’ve played him twice within a few weeks. Tell us how he’s changing his game.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think he’s going for his shots more, but I feel that he served extremely well today. Usually some parts of the match he drops his percentage of the serve, and it happens in my case as well, but today was, you know, a very good day for him. A very good serving day, and he was using it well.
Q. Do you think this could be a defining victory for him in terms of as he tries to overcome and you Roger and the others?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That’s a question for him.
Highlights from the Murray-Djokovic and Roger Federer-Juan Martin Del Potro matches:
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