Gutted Novak Djokovic shows class as Sinner ruins his Davis Cup dreams | Tennis | Sport

Novak Djokovic showed his class with a congratulatory message to Italy while also bearing the brunt of the blame for Serbia’s Davis Cup disappointment. The world No 1 lost to Jannik Sinner in a singles match before the doubles pairing of Djokovic and Miomir Kecmanovic lost to Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti to go out in the semi-finals.

In their singles match, Sinner trailed Love-40 at 5-4 down in the final set but saved three match points in Malaga before a superb win over Djokovic. That levelled the tie after Kecmanovic had beaten Musetti to give Serbia a 1-0 lead.

Sinner, who lost to Djokovic in the championship match at the ATP Finals last week, secured a 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 victory to force a decisive doubles rubber. And Italy came out on top in that 6-3, 6-4. That moves them to their first Davis Cup final since 1998, where they will face Australia.

Djokovic had made it abundantly clear he was desperate to win Serbia their second ever Davis Cup this week. But at the climax of a 2023 that has seen him win three of the four Grand Slam titles and end the year as No 1 at the age of 36, Djokovic was complete class after his doubles defeat.

He told a press conference: “Congratulations to Italy for qualifying for finals. They deserved it. They played really well, particularly Jannik, in singles against me and then doubles, as well.

“He barely missed the ball the entire match. So, you know, you can only say congrats and hats down for the performance like that. For me personally it’s a huge disappointment, because I take the responsibility, obviously having three match points, being so close to win it.

“Yeah, it’s unfortunate really. This is sport. When you lose for your country, you know, the bitter feeling is even greater. At this level against one of the best players in the world, everything happens really, really fast.

“At Love-40 I was in the rally. I missed, but from middle of the court, sliced long, and he served a couple of big serves. Maybe I had a passing shot on 30-40 but he was coming to the net. He was serving extremely well.

“It was difficult to read his serve, and he was hitting his spots whenever he needed to. Also today, Love-40, 3-2 for us, second-set doubles, again, serves on the line basically. Just have to say well done when someone plays like that. Yeah, just a very good performance from them.”

Djokovic was asked about his long season and whether fatigue had caught up on him, but the 24-time Grand Slam champion refused to make any excuses. He added: “It is what it is. You just have to shake the hands and move on, you know. Obviously this is a tough one to swallow.

“I was really trying to hype myself and encourage myself for this week. Throughout the entire season my thoughts were this week with my Davis Cup team. Yeah, I tried to contribute. I did in the first tie, but today it wasn’t meant to be.”

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