The world number one fell 6-2 and 6-1 in just 68 minutes of play. It was just his third loss of the year.
It is not a fact that happens often. And, much less with such forcefulness. Serbian Novak Djokovic, number one of the world rankings, said goodbye this Friday in the quarterfinals of the ATP 500 from Viena, which is disputed on hard surface and distributes 1,550,950 euros in prizes, after being beaten by italian Lorenzo Sonego, 42nd in the ranking, for an unappealable 6-2 and 6-1 in just 68 minutes of play.
This was just the third defeat of Djokovic this season, in which he has accumulated 39 victories. The Balkan had lost to Spanish Rafael Nadal in the final of Roland Garros three weeks ago and in the knockout stages of the US Open against Spanish Pablo Carreño Busta by disqualification, after hitting a lineswoman with a ball.
Djokovic had not lost to an opponent so low in the ATP rankings for more than two years. It was in June 2018, when they lost 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 1-6 and 7-6 (13-11) in the Roland Garros quarterfinals against another Italian, Marco Cecchinato, which was then 72nd in the world.
“He just took me off the court, that’s all”, admitted the Balkan. “He was better in every segment of the game. It was a pretty bad game on my side, but incredible on his. He definitely deserved this result ”, he acknowledged.
Perhaps the most striking thing is that the Serbian was beaten by a rival who on Sunday had fallen to the Slovenian Aljaz Body in the last round of the qualy. However, the player born in Turin 25 years ago earned a spot in the main draw as lucky loser, favored by the desertion of Diego Schwartzman, and did not miss his opportunity.
“Novak is the best in the world. Today I played the best game of my life. It’s amazing, amazing. I’m so happy about this ”, expressed incredulous the Italian, champion last year in the ATP 250 at Antalya, who until this Friday had not been able to win even one set in his three previous matches against rivals located in the top ten.
“I was concentrating on my tennis. Today I served very well, returned well, played my best tennis and moved the ball very well, “explained the winner, who acknowledged that the conditions of the court were favorable for his game:” I like being here, it’s very fast for my service ”.
This surprise defeat the first in his career before a lucky loser (he had prevailed in the previous 12 matches), prevented Djokovic from ensuring this week to finish the year as world number one for the sixth time in his career, an achievement that only Pete Sampras got.
Sonego, who did not give up sets in his three main draw matches, will face the winner of the last duel of the quarterfinals in one of the semi-finals of the Austrian tournament, which faces the British Daniel Evans (33rd) with the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov (20th).
In another surprise this Friday, Russian Daniil Medvedev (6th) was defeated 6-4 and 7-6 (7-5) by the veteran Kevin Anderson, who came to occupy the fifth place in the ranking two years ago and today is 111th.
In the semifinals, the South African will face the Russian Andrey Rublev (8th), who eliminated world number 3, local Dominic Thiem, 7-6 (7-5) and 6-2.