Vienna: Novak Djokovic shrugged off his heaviest defeat on Friday by insisting he had achieved his goal of wrapping up the year-end world NO. 1 spot for a record-equalling sixth time.
Djokovic was stunned 6-2, 6-1 by Italian lucky loser Lorenzo Sonego in the quarter-finals of the Vienna ATP tournament.
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But having won two rounds in the Austrian capital, 33-year-old Djokovic is virtually guaranteed equalling Pete Sampras’s record of securing the year-ending top ranking for the sixth time.
“Clinching the year-end No. 1 had an effect on me,” Djokovic said. “I have done what I came here for, securing the number one. And I’m completely fine with today’s result. I’m healthy and looking forward to a strong finish in London (the season-ending ATP Finals)”.
Italian Sonego, ranked 42 and who had initially lost in qualifying last weekend, is the first lucky loser ever to beat Djokovic.
The only other time Djokovic had won just three games was at the 2005 Australian Open at the hands of Marat Safin in a best-of-five set encounter.
“He just blew me off the court, that’s all,” Djokovic said. “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 Serb star who was playing his first tournament since his Roland Garros final defeat to Rafal Nadal three weeks ago.
Djokovic can only be denied the end of year world No. 1 ranking if Nadal takes an unlikely wild card into the Sofia tournament next month.
The Spaniard has already said, however, that travelling to Bulgaria after next week’s Paris Masters and before London is not on his agenda.