World No 1 Novak Djokovic was handed a shock 2-6, 1-6 defeat by Italian lucky loser Lorenzo Sonego in the quarterfinal of the ATP 500 event in Vienna on Friday evening.
“He just blew me off the court, that’s all,” said Djokovic after only his third loss this season in 42 matches.
“He was better in every segment of the game… it was a pretty bad match from my side, but amazing from his side. He definitely deserved this result.”
Coming into this match, World No 42 Sonego had not even won a set against a top-10 player. But he played some aggressive tennis, and made most of his opponents’ errors, to become the first lucky loser to beat Djokovic.
A title win in the Vienna would have helped the Serb clinch the year-end No 1 ranking. Though the Serb fell short here, he remains on course to equal his idol Pete Sampras’ record of six year-end No 1 finishes.
“I came here with the intention to try to earn more points and secure the (World) No. 1 at the end of the year,” Djokovic said. “I’m happy, I’m pleased I’m healthy and hopefully I can have a strong finish in London.”
Sonego with one of the shocks of the season 💪
— ATP Tour (@atptour) October 30, 2020
The 33-year-old Serb will next compete at the ATP Tour Finals, which he has won five times.
“Looking forward to it. It’s the final tournament of the year. Obviously I’ll do my best to prepare well and have a shot at the title,” Djokovic said.
“(The) best eight players in this season are going to be there. After Slams it’s probably the strongest event we have on our Tour, maybe the strongest because of the field of players. Every match that you get to play is against a top eight player in the world.
“I’ve had plenty of success in that (London’s O2) arena. It’s obviously going to be different without the crowd, but hopefully I can have a strong finish.”
As for Sonego, it was the first top-10 win of his career.
“For sure it’s the best victory of my life,” said Sonego, who is yet to lose a set in the main draw in Vienna.
The 25-year-old Italian had lost a close three-setter (2-6, 6-4, 5-7) to Aljaz Bedene in the final round of qualifying but found a spot in the Vienna main draw after Diego Schwartzman pulled out.
“Novak is the best in the world. Today I played so, so good. It’s unbelievable. It’s amazing,” said Sonego. He will face Britain’s Dan Evans in the semi-finals.
The Vienna Open also lost the defending champion and home favourite Dominic Thiem on Friday. Andrey Rublev struck 30 winners past the Austrian to win 7-6 (5), 6-2 to set up a semi-final clash against Kevin Anderson.