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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

Tennis

I was exhausted after semi strain, says Djokovic
AFP
London , July 08, 2013
First Published: 00:38 IST(8/7/2013)
Last Updated: 02:36 IST(8/7/2013)

Exhausted Novak Djokovic blamed his lacklustre Wimbledon final defeat against Andy Murray on being unable to recover quickly enough from his gruelling semi-final victory.

Djokovic had taken over four hours and 43 minutes to defeat Juan Martin del Potro in a bruising five-set classic just 48 hours earlier.

And with the All England Club basking in sweltering temperatures of 40 degrees on Sunday, the usually hyper-energetic Djokovic found it impossible to rouse himself enough to subdue Murray.

The world number one looked flat for long periods and made 40 unforced errors during a sapping 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 defeat that took over three hours to reach a conclusion.

"It took a lot out of me. I cannot look for excuses but yes the previous match went almost five hours, five sets," Djokovic said.

"I've been in these situations before. I felt okay but maybe physically I didn't have enough gas in the important moments.

"I went for my shots more than usual. Okay, that's life. You have to move on.

"It was a very long match for three sets today. But the bottom line is that he was a better player in the decisive moments."

Djokovic had been in sublime form en route to the final, but the top seed couldn't recapture that form as tiredness set in during his first straight sets defeat at a Grand Slam since a 2010 Wimbledon loss to Tomas Berdych.

And he admitted his aching limbs and mental fatigue scrambled his thought process and made him take too many risks.

"In both second and third sets, I was 4-2 up and dropped the serve in those games and just allowed him to come back for no reason," Djokovic said.

"I should have played better in the decisive moments. I wasn't patient enough.

"I believed I could come back, but I didn't play on the top of my abilities and with this kind of game I didn't have a chance to win.

"But he was getting some incredible shots on the stretch and running down the dropshots. He was all over the court. He played fantastic tennis, no question about it. He deserved to win."

Unlike in last year's final, when Murray had to share the support of the crowd with Centre Court favourite Roger Federer, this time the Briton was given vociferous backing from start to finish.

Djokovic was even subjected to some jeers for repeatedly questioning line calls and ranting at umpire Mohamed Lahyani following one controversial decision.

However, he refused to criticise the crowd's reactions and claimed he had expected the fans to be against him.

"The atmosphere was incredible for him. For me, not so much. But that's what I expected and that's how it was," he said.

"It must mean a lot to everybody. Wimbledon is the most important tennis tournament in the world. Especially for him as a British player and the crowd.

"It couldn't be a more perfect setting for them. So he deserved to win and that's it."

Djokovic and Murray, who became friends after playing against each other from aged 11 on the junior circuit, have contested three of the last four Grand Slam finals, with the Scot winning twice and the Serb once.

And, however much it hurt to lose, Djokovic still made a point of seeking out Murray to offer his congratulations before the trophy presentation on court.

"I congratulated him. He was the better player. I said he deserved to win," Djokovic said.

"He's gotten better evidently. He has won the US Open, Olympic gold medal, and now Wimbledon. That shows enough.

"I guess the understanding of what he needs to do to win big matches has improved.

"I guess (Murray's coach Ivan) Lendl helped him with his own experience. They're a good team."


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