VIENNA: Novak Djokovic won just three games in a lackluster quarterfinal performance at the Erste Bank Open on Friday (Oct 30), losing 6-2 6-1 to 42nd-ranked Lorenzo Sonego.
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 came here with the intention to try to earn more points and secure the No. 1 in the end of the year. I have done that, so I move on,” Djokovic said.
“I am happy, I am pleased, I am healthy, and hopefully I can have a strong finish (at the ATP finals) in London.”
Djokovic lacked power in his groundstrokes and produced a string of mistakes from the start. He soon dropped 4-0 behind, winning just five points on Sonego’s serve in the opening set.
Djokovic slightly improved in the second, but missed all six break points before conceding his service game for a fifth time when Sonego closed out the win with a passing shot.
“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.
Djokovic will not defend his title at the Paris Masters next week. The ATP will deduct no points in this shortened season because of the pandemic, while he also could gain no additional points as the defending champion.
Instead, Djokovic was looking forward to traveling 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.
Sonego lost in the final qualifying round to Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia, but was added as a lucky loser to the main draw after several players pulled out with injuries.
The Italian became the first lucky loser to beat the world No. 1 since 2017 when Jordan Thomson stunned Andy Murray at Queens.
Sonego will play Grigor Dimitrov or Daniel Evans for a place in Sunday’s final.
Also, Andrey Rublev reached the semifinals, continuing his quest for a record fifth ATP title this season.
No. 5-seeded Rublev beat defending champion Dominic Thiem 7-6 (5), 6-2 to set up a semifinal against 2018 champion Kevin Anderson, who defeated Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 7-6 (5).
Rublev held off two break points early against Thiem and won a fast-paced opening set in the tiebreaker.
The eighth-ranked Russian dominated the second as Thiem looked hampered by a blister on his right foot.
“I was lucky that Dominic had problems with the feet. We had some great battles in the past,” Rublev said. He added that winning “two unreal rallies” in the tiebreaker shifted the quarterfinal in his favor.