Novak Djokovic: I Was Not Pleased With My Performance, But Istomin Deserved To Win
by Staff | January 19th, 2017, 6:10 am

Novak Djokovic suffered his earliest loss in years at the Australian Open tumbling out of the event he’s won six times in the second round tonight to the 117th ranked Denis Istomin 7-6(8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.

After saving set points to win the second, it appeared Djokovic would run away with the match over the Uzbek he had beaten handily in all five previous meetings. But an early break in the fifth sealed Djokovic’s fate, sending the Serb home the earliest he has at a Slam since a 2008 Wimbledon second round loss to Marat Safin.

Djokovic dominated the tour culminating with his Career Slam at the French, but since has made the fourth round once in the last three majors.

AFterward, Djokovic, who will now not return to No. 1 until the clay season, met the press.

Q. How did you see the match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: All the credit to Denis for playing amazing. He deserved to win. No doubt, he was a better player in the clutch moments. He stepped it up, played aggressive. Served very well, very precise. There’s not much I could do.

Of course, I was not pleased with my performance overall. But, you know, I have to congratulate my opponent today.

Q. You seemed to lack intensity. Was there anything at all wrong?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: There was intensity, of course. We played four-and-a-half hours. It’s just that, you know, it’s one of these days when you don’t feel that great on the court, don’t have much rhythm, and the player you’re playing against is feeling the ball very well.

So, you know, that’s sport.

Q. Do you think you lost this match more in the first and fourth set? Because you seemed to have found your way in other sets.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it seemed like in the third set I felt comfortable. I had a breakpoint opening fourth set. Missed an easy forehand. Yeah, match turned around. Maybe late in the fourth set something could have happened.

But I didn’t really have a clear chance, to be honest. Wherever he needed, he came up with big serve, big play.

All I can say is hats down.

Q. You played him five times before, only lost a set. Did you ever see any of this Denis Istomin before?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of course, I never underestimate any opponent. Doesn’t matter which tournament I play on or which round. I try to give the best that I can. I have respect for everybody.

Him playing this well, I mean, it’s amazing. He played obviously above his level. You got to give him credit for that. Many things came together for him today. He’s a well-deserved winner.

Q. In the narrative of your development, we thought after Doha maybe you put a slight disappointing second half of the season last year behind. Do you still feel like that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I started the season very well. Again, it’s a tennis match. On a given day, you can lose. I mean, nothing is impossible. There is over a hundred players playing in the main draw. I guess the quality of tennis keeps rising each year. Everybody becomes more professional. I guess they improve. They get better on the court.

What can I do? I did try my best till the last shot, but it didn’t work.

Q. You talked last season a bit about the French Open, what a massive thing that was to you. It kind of affected your mindset. Do you think possibly there’s still a little bit of a hangover from having sort of achieved that massive goal?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t know. I mean, it’s not a time now to go so deep into it. I didn’t reflect on that at all at this stage. I started a new season, a new year, as everybody else.

I forgot about it, in a way. It’s not affecting me, if you were referring to that.

Q. You’ve fought yourself out of very difficult situations in a lot of matches over the last few years. Were you surprised that you weren’t able to do that today?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I was believing and hoping I could do it, but it wasn’t that day. That’s all I can say. Not much to add.

Q. Is it more physical or more mental, even though it’s always a mixture between the two? Which side would you choose?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t think it was physical. We both looked okay. After four-and-a-half hours, we didn’t seem to be tired. Of course, four-and-a-half hours is not easy on the body. But still, I don’t think that has affected neither me or my opponent. It was just in the game of tennis, you know, one guy beats the other guy. That’s all I can say.

Q. More mental at the end?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: You make your conclusions (smiling).

Q. What do you take from that match? What do you learn from it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Take my bags and I go home.

Q. Lessons?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Lessons are always learned every single day, not just when you lose.

Q. When you lost against Sam in Wimbledon, you said it was a shock for you. How does this one feel?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, it’s definitely not something you’re looking for, not something you’re wishing for. But, again, I have to deal with it. It is the way it is.

Q. It’s obviously very soon after the event, but we won’t get another chance to ask you. At the moment, what is your schedule?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I understand your position, but you have to understand my position. I really don’t know. I mean, at the moment I just want to go home, spend time with my family, and that’s all.

Q. Are you slightly more accepting of this, more philosophical about it than you might have been a year ago?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I didn’t understand your question.

Q. Is defeat hurting as much as it normally ever would?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, you know, are you referring to the second-round loss?

Q. Yes.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, of course. I’m not used to losing in Australian Open second round. I’ve always played so well. Throughout last 10 years, I’ve won six titles here. This court has been so nice to me. I enjoyed it very much.

Of course, it’s disappointing. But the end of the day I have to accept it.

Q. Coming back to win the second and third set, where did the match turn around?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I feel like the first couple games of fourth set, that’s where it turned around. That’s where I had to use my chances, step it up.

I didn’t. He started playing better from that point on. He just started swinging through and getting more confidence. Then it was really a gamble.

Q. I kept waiting for you to sort of show your emotions, get pumped up or something. It didn’t really happen. Was there a reason for that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, no, not any particular reason. I was just trying to be in the moment, focus on the next point. That’s all.

Q. Do you think in the past half year, opponents have started to believe more that they can beat you in matches like that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Sure. I mean, look, they wouldn’t be playing against me or any other opponent or any other tournament, for that matter, if they don’t believe that they can win. They go out and they try their best.

Today Denis, surely he was an underdog, but he didn’t show any nerves in the big moments. I think his experience in playing long time — surely he didn’t play that many big matches, but just everything came together. It was the right moment for him, the right day. He was better.

Q. Do you think more than maybe a year ago?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: (No response.)

Q. I want to congratulate the way you answered these questions. You’ve been very nice.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Grazie mille.

Q. How disappointing is it not to take your seventh title here?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’ve not had this opportunity.

Q. Will you take it next year?

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29 Comments for Novak Djokovic: I Was Not Pleased With My Performance, But Istomin Deserved To Win

theDA Says:

Commiserations Novaks fans (except for the one who joked about my suicide). He has had an extraordinary run. Just a blip. All big 4 fans have had to endure dips or absences of some kind. Crazy how that side of the draw has opened up.

Stu Says:

Djokivic WILL not return to no1 before the clay season? Implies he WILL after! Bold prediction ;-)

Miles Says:

It isn’t just a blip, though, is it? Querrey at last year’s W showed something was wrong physically, and he got very lucky at the US Open to reach the final. He’s looked ordinary since the French.

Colin Says:

I suppose Andy will now be favourite for the title, though there are several others who might derail him. No doubt if he does finally win the AO, there will be a chorus of “He didn’t have to play Novak”.

What does seem likely is, in accordance with the current trend, the winner will be a veteran rather than a new face.

Margot Says:

Colin: Rafa is playing very well on t’other side and Stan is always immensely dangerous.
One round at a time.

Miles Says:

I’m not sure we can judge Nadal’s standard just yet – Baghdatis was only serving at 100mph today and it still took Nadal two-and-a-quarter hours to win in 3 sets. If he beats Zverev convincingly, then that will be a real indicator that he’s a contender.

Van Persie Says:

“He’s looked ordinary since the French.”

Miles, I would not say ordinary, he played like a guy, who belongs in top 10-20.

Van Persie Says:

^^ but ordinary if we would count only the slams, you are right.

Truth Says:

I said he was out of control and no one believed me. The qatar event meant nothing. He was too satisfied and arrogant about his wealthy lifestyle.

Istomin had a bad back because he was in a big car crash.
Novak can’t even beat a weakened Istomin in a 5 setter.
Novak sure loves his money and partying though. Wow, his career is over.

Truth Says:

“They wouldn’t be playing”. He didn’t even play.
He is too tired after hugging & relaxing in hotels.

He was just standing around one place behind the baseline when Istomin tried his best.

Almost twenty minutes of this, in just the first game.
Why is he looking at his team when he doesn’t even crush the ball or run and gets moved side to side like a rag doll?
When he has 3 break points, he disappears and then loses a marathon tiebreak. Retire.

Miles Says:

Van Persie – no, I think Djokovic has looked ordinary (for him) in all tournaments since he won the French. True, he got to the final at the O2, but if he’d had Andy’s (far tougher) group, I doubt he’d have made that! And if I’d had his USO draw, I wouldn’t have been far short of the final myself (slight exaggeration!).

His serve is slower now than it was this time last year (when he looked nigh unbeatable). A lot of people are saying he’s lost his focus – maybe, but I think he’s experiencing an underlying physical problem that is affecting his serve in particular. I noticed when in the Doha final that at times he seemed in genuine pain.

Of course, I could be completely wrong, but that would mean that his recent erratic play is down to purely psychological reasons – that seems unlikely to me, as his mental strength has been extraordinary over the last 6 years.I wouldn’t write him off just yet, but I think his fans should be concerned.

skeezer Says:

HIs footwork is poor, and you can see it when he prepares to hit a shot. It all starts from the bottom up. No proper footwork = faulty strokes. I don’t know what to make of this guy, but he does not look right physically. I am not in his camp but he looks like he is not practicing well, or good enough. He has some great usual spurts of focus, but that is just it, they are now spurts. If you want to be an all time great you have to have a “B’ game that can win when your “A” game isn’t there. Thats what the greats do. This just magnifies of how “weeks @ #1” is such an important stat in the Game and how difficult it is to stay on the top.
Istomin? He found a zone, was focused and for the most part ran the right way around the court. His DTL off both wings and serve imo were the big difference.

Jenny Shekersavva Says:

well done Dennis you must be thrilled at beating novak so am I noak is coming to an end of his career.he certainly wont be reaching thirty five like Federer so that will put a zip on his father’s mouth .

Margot Says:

Skeeze: I thought Istomin’s serve was the key. Nole couldn’t seem to get a handle on it.
Miles: Rafa looks thinner to me and is moving faster than last year. Of course we don’t know what his stamina is like as he’s had quick matches.

Daniel Says:

Agree Margot, at least in tiebreak fourth set and final set he was making some curical aces in later stages at games, when under pressure to close.

Daniel Says:

Miles has a point, we forget but Djokovic has one of the most physical games together with Murray and Nadal (and Ferrer), but as he is the lighther of them all and with no real serius injuries so far, compared to nadals chronic knees, Murray back surgery… Maybe his body is just not holding like it used to. One thing is what he did in 2011 when 24-25, or 2015, 27-28. Now he is 29 almost 30. It may be catching up. And he has way more milage than Murray, almost the same as Nadal.

Truth Says:

He was cruising in Aussie open-clay last year, so it’s not old age and severe injury.
The only trouble was the Nadal Rome match back then.

He’s so happy being a loser and pretending he cares about winning Slams.
That humble nice hugging guy act is wearing thin…
His career is about money now, because it’s not about fighting anymore.
Of course most people love the guru. They can’t wait for Fed to do very little and win every Slam.

courbon Says:

Miles:I completely agree with your last post.Just ad one thing-even last year at AO and first six months , his serve was slower then in 2015.Some kind of physical problem or just getting older? And changing dieat to vegan one, surely does not help.That’s why I think, if he is to come back to good level, it will take at least 4,5 months to adress the problems or heal.And all that permitting that he listens and aknowledges the problem.Time will tell.

Van Persie Says:


I told last year during the FO or after, that I had the feeling, Novak had played with pain. Agree also with Courbon, Nole was not fabulous, like in 2015, after the AO 2016. He might carry an old injury.


from the other thread. If we might see each other in this life, I would like to introduce you to my partner. You share the same music tastes with him, even if he’s younger then you. Plus he is passionate about architectue, I have the feeling you work in the field.:)
P.S. No worries. We would pay the hotel bill ;)

Van Persie Says:

^^ sorry for the spelling mistakes.

courbon Says:

Van Persie: No need to apologise-I do spelling mistakes all the time but beware of Margot and Collin-they are gramma police.
Who knows-maybe we will meet.Toulouse, Belgrade, London most likely places ( from my side )But actually I’m not sure where you live-I think is Romania but I’may be wrong?-
Regarding Novak I will expect very little for the future, so if he does better, then it will be a bonus.But I think it will take some time.

Van Persie Says:

Thanks for the feedback Courbon,

Well, like you, I also live in more places: München, Timisoara and Köln. who knows, perhaps our paths will cross once :)

Off now, have a lovely evening ;)

RZ Says:

Ok, the racket bracket has finally been updated. Van Persie is holding on to her lead, but watch out for Margot who is right behind in 2nd place (and one of the few entries who didn’t have Novak making the final)

J-Kath Says:

Miles @ 9.05am

You say it still took Rafa 2 + a quarter hours to win his match in 3 sets today. Indicating something of a struggle for Rafa.

I think we need to remember that Rafa’s matches always tend to be longer than most – he takes so long with his preparations – even though he is trying to improve. That said, other players can and do stretch the time between serves – but no player consistently takes the extra time that Rafa takes. The point is a long 3-set win over Marcus does not signify a major struggle for Rafa – it simply explains why it took longer than normal to win 3 sets….really nothing to do with the quality of Rafa’s play.

Apologies to Rafa’s fans if this sounds unfair.

Miles Says:

J-Kath – I’m not saying Nadal isn’t playing well, merely that it’s too early to judge if he’s a contender based on today’s match. Baghdatis only won 7 games – ordinarily that would be a 90 (approx) minute match, not 132 minutes (even with Nadal’s longer preparation!). He made too many unforced errors, imo, and that’s what extended the match. He might well grow in confidence and reduce the UEs as he progresses – the Zverev match will reveal a lot, I believe.

This is a wide open tournament, as Murray’s ankle is sore he might not be able to take full advantage of Djokovic’s defeat. I reckon one of the young players might come through this time.

Eric W. Says:

Anyone see the Novak presser after losing to the clownlike Istomin? Looked like a brainwashed Pepe cult member, saying all the polite, computer-generated answers to pointed questions. Lots of smiles while endlessly complimenting his 117th ranked opponent who rarely passed the first or second round in 34 GS tournaments. It’s crystal clear that barring a miracle, Djoker’s time at the top of men’s tennis is finished. He simply does not care anymore, has no competitive fire, and can’t wait to land in Europe, so that he can give his guru Pepe a nice, long hug.

Truth Says:

Yes, it hurts some people to hear the truth. That’s why comments are moderated here.

Lukas Says:

I know Novak Djokovic cant surpass Roger Federer’s record of 17 grand slams. Continuing at this pace i think it’s not possible anymore.

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