VIENNA • Novak Djokovic admitted he was “blown off court” following his heaviest defeat in a three-set match on Friday, when he was knocked out of the Vienna ATP tournament by lucky loser Lorenzo Sonego.
The Italian, ranked 42nd and who had initially lost in qualifying last weekend, is the first lucky loser ever to beat tennis’ world No. 1.
His 6-2, 6-1 quarter-final stunner was a score that 33-year-old Djokovic would want to forget quickly. The only other time he had won just three games was at the 2005 Australian Open at the hands of Marat Safin in a best-of-five encounter.
“He just blew me off the court, that’s all,” Djokovic told atptour.com.
“He was better in every segment of the game. It was a pretty bad match from my side, but amazing from his side.
“He definitely deserved this result,” added the Serbian star, who was playing his first event since his Roland Garros final defeat by Rafael Nadal three weeks ago.
Friday’s loss also means he will have to wait a little longer before he completes the formality of equalling Pete Sampras’ all-time record of ending the season top of the rankings for a sixth time.
Djokovic, who will not be defending his Paris Masters crown this week, is already looking forward to the season-ending ATP Finals from Nov 15 to 22.
“I’ve done what I needed to do and why I came here. I move on completely fine with today’s result and looking to the next chapter,” he said. “I’m healthy and looking forward to a strong finish in London.”
Sonego fired 26 winners past Djokovic, who lost for only the third time this year, along with 39 wins. The 17-time Grand Slam champion managed just seven winners against 25 unforced errors.
“For sure it’s the best victory of my life. Novak is the best in the world. Today I played so, so good,” the 25-year-old Sonego said.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s amazing. I played the best match in my life. I’m so happy for this.”
Second seed and defending champion Dominic Thiem also lost on Friday, going down 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 to world No. 8 Andrey Rublev.
The Russian hit 30 winners past the US Open champion.
“I came here with the mood that I have nothing to lose,” said Rublev, who is chasing a fifth title of the year.
“I had already a really great season. I came here with zero expectations, just wanting to do my best. To try to fight every match. At the end, I am here in the semi-finals.”
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS