A “shocked” Novak Djokovic admitted his defeat to Jannik Sinner in the Australian Open semi-finals was “one of the worst grand slam matches” he has played as the World No 1 suffered his first loss in Melbourne in six years.
Djokovic won just three games in the first two sets of the contest and did not force a single break point against Sinner’s serve during the match, as the Italian closed out a hugely impressive 6-1 6-2 6-7 6-3 victory.
The 36-year-old Djokovic had not lost a match at the Australian Open since 2018 and had won all 10 of his previous semi-final appearances at the Rod Laver Arena, with Sinner ending his run of 33 consecutive victories at the tournament.
Afterwards, Djokovic said: “First I want to congratulate Sinner for playing a great match, great tournament so far. He’s deservedly in the finals. He outplayed me completely today.
“I was shocked with my level, in a bad way. There was not much I was doing right in the first two sets.
“This is one of the worst grand slam matches I’ve ever played. At least that I remember. It’s not a very pleasant feeling playing this way.
“But at the same time, you know, credit to him for doing everything better than me, you know, in every aspect of the game. Congratulations to him.”
Djokovic appeared out-of-sorts as Sinner dominated the match and said he had not felt himself during the tournament, but denied defeat to the 22-year-old Italian was the “beginning of the end”.
Djokovic also suffered a tough defeat to Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final last season and it appears the younger generation have finally caught up to the 24-time grand slam champion.
“Let’s see,” Djokovic said. “I still have high hopes, you know, for other slams, Olympics, and whatever tournaments that I’ll play. It’s just the beginning of the season.
“It’s not the feeling that I’m used to. I mean, it kind of has been incredibly satisfying for me, you know, to start off most of my seasons with a grand slam win and never lost in semis or finals of Australian Open.
“So this time it’s a bit different, but it is what it is. This tournament hasn’t been up to my standard or criteria or the level that I would normally play or expect myself to play,
“But doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s beginning of the end, you know, as some people like to call it. Let’s see what happens in the rest of the season.”
Sinner will play in his first grand slam final on Sunday and said he grew in confidence after beating Djokovic twice in two weeks at the ATP Finals and Davis Cup at the end of last season.
“It gives you a better feeling when you know that you can beat one player,” Sinner said. “For me was a huge privilege end of last year to play against him in ten days for three times, because obviously you can practice with him, but the match is always different.
“So I feel like this for sure helped me in one way, but in the other way, it’s as I said before, grand slam, mentally, it’s different. I just tried to play as relaxed as possible but also having the right game plan in my mind.I think today it worked really well.”