Novak Djokovic has admitted he was gutted after suffering a third French Open final defeat against Stan Wawrinka on Sunday. According to the world’s number one tennis player, losing in the final of a tournament that he entered in such excellent form and ending his 28-match winning streak also added to his pains of losing Roland Garros title.
“It hurts, especially because it was in the final. I came to the position to really win this trophy. It was not easy to stand there as a runner-up again, but I lost to a better player who played some courageous tennis and deserved to win,” said the 28-year-old Serb.
“But, again, at least I’m proud of the fight that I put into this match. I tried my best. It wasn’t to be,” he added.
Swiss star, Stan Wawrinka had caused the upset to Djokovic’s hopes of completing the career Grand Slam in Paris when he coasted home on 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 victory.
Djokovic had gone into Sunday’s final as a strong favourite after his quarter-final win over nine-time champion Rafael Nadal, the man who beat him in the 2012 and 2014 finals.
The world number one played well enough to have beaten almost anyone, but for three hours and 12 minutes, Wawrinka stood firm and took his shots. And the backhand down the line winner to seal the decisive break in the fourth set capped the array of glorious attacking shots that propelled the Swiss to victory in his second grand slam final appearance.
Djokovic admitted that he did everything possible to break down his opponent but he seemed unstoppable. “I think I have played a great clay-court season, a great Roland Garros. I was set up and was really in the match and trying to play tactically as I intended. But he (Wawrinka) just found the solutions on the court. That’s what happens on this level. You have to accept the loss,” Djokovic said.
The game had started in a predictable manner with top seed Djokovic taking the first set with a solitary break of serve but was on the back foot from then on as 30-year-old Wawrinka, the eighth seed, fired a total of 60 winners past him.
“I think I was hanging in there in the second set. I was coming back from some break points down, saving myself, and playing an even game with him. But he was the better player in the second so he deserved to win that one, and the third and the fourth. All I can do is say, well done. He deserves it.”
And despite being taken to five sets in his last four Grand Slam matches against Wawrinka, he had lost only once to the Swiss in the last nine years. Djokovic led 17-3 in his head-to-head record against Wawrinka before the Paris final.
Djokovic will now have to wait another 12 months before trying to add the French Open to the one US Open, two Wimbledon and five Australian Open titles he has won. He will now turn his attention to the grass-court season and defending his title at the All England Club, but what is uppermost in his mind now is recuperation. “My mind is not in London at the moment, really. I need some rest. That’s all,” he declared.
By Olisemeka Obeche