If I didn’t believe in myself, I wouldn’t be playing tennis

Fri 21 Apr 2023

Novak Djokovic has suffered a defeat at the quarter-finals of the Srpska Open to Dusan Lajovic. It was obvious after the match that the world No. 1 did not take well the fact that he has to say goodbye to the local crowds in Banjaluka so soon.

However, as a gentleman, Djokovic displayed true sportsmanship and congratulated his younger fellow player on this victory and added:

“Lajovic is a fantastic individual. We’ve known each other for a long time. We play together in the Davis cup. This is his biggest victory”.

The best tennis player in the world admitted that he wasn’t playing his best tennis, namely that he hoped that the end of the season on clay would be much more successful. In his answer to the question what decided the match: the fact that Lajovic played well, or that he didn’t play well enough, Novak said:

“The combination of the two. Lajovic played well. On the other hand, I played much worse than I wanted to. I cannot win matches against opponents who are this solid on this surface by playing like this. I didn’t feel well on the court, my legs were slow and my footwork was torpid, many missed shots, totally without direction. I played well at times but I played noticeably under my level”.

Both tennis players had a lot of ups and downs during the match but Djokovic believed he could turn the match around until the very end.

“If I didn’t believe in myself, I would be playing tennis at all. That’s a precondition for professional tennis. I was fighting to the last point. The fact that I did not play well at some moments, when it was necessary to play better, that doesn’t have anything to do with confidence, that’s a series of circumstances and my current condition which is far worse than I expected. I don’t have anything else to add. I’ve had my chances but did not use them. I was rather passive, made many mistakes and that resulted in a defeat”.

Djokovic played against Lajovic twice in the past and beat him rather easily on both occasions. However, this time his tennis wasn’t good enough to defeat his younger colleague.

“On several occasions, when it was necessary, he was more aggressive, served well, hit corner shots. He’s been playing well on clay his whole life, that’s his surface, and his best results came on clay so it’s not a big surprise to me to see him play like this. He remained mentally strong and that’s progress in comparison with other matches. His game did not vary much”.

When it comes to his plans for the future, Djokovic said the following:

“We’ll see. The emotions are still strong after the match so I have to think about what’s coming next”.