Djokovic: ‘Andy Deserved To Win’
Serb reflects on challenging week in Rome
“I wished him happy birthday and just to enjoy the time with his family,” Djokovic, a fellow family man, recounted. “I know that his wife, Kim, and [daughter] Sophia were here. I know as a young father how much it means to you when your family is on the road and when you get to have at least a couple of days alone with them. That's what I wished him.”
The World No. 1 was no doubt disappointed after losing a big match to a rival, but the pair’s commonalities only added to Djokovic’s respect for the champion, who, on his 29th birthday, became the first British man since 1931 to win in Rome.
"Of course, you don't like to lose, but, you've got to congratulate the better player. Andy deserved to win," Djokovic said. “To compete with him in the long exchanges that we tend to have in our encounters required a lot of energy and a better performance from me, which didn't happen.
"Andy was the better player. He was the player who had the best form throughout this week. I think he's using the court better now [than in previous years]. He has more variety in his shots from the baseline.”
While Murray won all 10 sets played this week, Djokovic laboured to reach the final. The defending champion edged Stephane Robert 7-5, 7-5 in the second round, overcame a 0-6 first set against Thomaz Bellucci in the third round and needed a deciding tie-break to see off Kei Nishikori in the semi-finals.
“I had a long couple of weeks, especially the last couple of days. I knew it was going to be an uphill battle against Andy today,” Djokovic said. “I'm glad I managed to get to the final, because in a couple of matches I’ve had to come back from one-set deficits. All in all, it was very good two weeks after dropping out in Monte-Carlo early [against Jiri Vesely]. I needed this kind of results. I got what I was looking for, which is lot of matches.
“My confidence level is high because of the many matches that I have won this year on this surface and all the other surfaces, so I don't feel that I'm doubtful or that I'm shaken up by this loss."