Novak Djokovic has suffered his heaviest defeat ever in a three-set ATP Tour match, losing 6-2 6-1 to 42nd-ranked lucky loser Lorenzo Sonego in a strangely lacklustre quarter-final performance at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna.
It was only Djokovic’s third loss of the year, after being disqualified for hitting a line judge with a ball at the U.S. Open and losing the French Open final to Rafael Nadal.
“I have done what I needed to do and why I came here. I am completely fine with today’s result and looking forward to the next chapter,” Djokovic said, brushing aside the loss.
“I am happy, I am pleased, I am healthy, and hopefully I can have a strong finish (at the ATP finals) in London.”
Italian Sonego, who had initially lost in qualifying last weekend, is the first lucky loser ever to beat Djokovic and the magnitude of the win was almost unprecedented.
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The only other time the 33-year-old Djokovic had won just three games in a match was at the 2005 Australian Open at the hands of Marat Safin in a best-of-five set encounter.
Friday’s defeat means Djokovic will have to wait longer before he completes the formality of equalling Pete Sampras’s all-time record of ending the season as world No.1 for a sixth time.
“He just blew me off the court, that’s all,” Djokovic told atptour.com after the shock upset.
“He was better in every segment of the game. It was a pretty bad match from my side, but amazing from his side.
Not working today but audibly gasped at that Novak Djokovic scoreline 😱 what on earth happened…?!
Djokovic will not defend his title at the Paris Masters next week and said he was looking forward to travelling home to Serbia.
“I would call it a blessing, being a father and being a husband, it’s the best thing in the world. I am not far from home, so I look forward to that,” he said.
“For sure, it’s the best victory of my life. Novak is the best in the world. Today I played so, so good,” he said.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s amazing. I played the best match in my life. I’m so happy for this.”
The Italian fired 26 winners past the Serb, who himself produced 25 unforced errors.
He becomes the first lucky loser to beat the world No.1 since 2017 when Australian Jordan Thompson stunned Andy Murray at Queens.
Second seed and defending champion Dominic Thiem also lost in Friday’s action, going down 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 to Russian world No.8 Andrey Rublev.
Rublev set up a semi-final against 2018 champion Kevin Anderson, who defeated Daniil Medvedev 6-4 7-6 (7-5).