Novak Djokovic US Open 2021

Novak Djokovic blames shock Dubai loss on a lack of match fitness

Novak Djokovic admits his surprise Dubai Tennis Championships loss was due to a lack of match fitness and believes he needs more matches in order to return to his best level.

20-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic started his Dubai Tennis Championships campaign well when he beat Italian youngster Lorenzo Musetti before then overcoming Russian Karen Khachanov.

He then faced Czechian qualifier Jiri Vesely in the quarter-final, who had already impressively beaten both Marin Cilic and Roberto Bautista-Agut. Vesely caused one of the upsets of the year when he beat Djokovic to make him lose his World number one title.

US Open champion Daniil Medvedev had to either match or better Djokovic’s result to steal the title, which he did when he lost in the semi-finals of the Mexican Open to 21-time Slam champion Rafael Nadal.

The Dubai Tennis Championships was Djokovic’s first competitive appearance since the Davis Cup in early December after he was deported from Australia just one day before the Australian Open.

Moreover, Djokovic’s involvement at further competitions is also in doubt after he revealed he intends to remain unvaccinated and is willing to sacrifice Grand Slams should vaccinations be made mandatory for entry.

Whilst he has been named on the Indian Wells Masters entry list, as it stands Djokovic will not be allowed to enter the United States as  per Covid-19 restrictions regarding foreign entry.

Speaking after his loss to eventual finalist Vesely, Djokovic said “I’m lacking a little bit of the match play. You can see that; I’m still finding the groove on the court.

“The more matches I play, the more comfortable I get on the court. I need the match play.

“I didn’t have many matches at all last few months. Let’s see.

Djokovic also added that he still feels he has years left in his career, saying “I don’t look at the age really as a restricting factor for my career.

“I still feel great in terms of my body and the way it’s holding on, the way it’s recovering. It’s been serving me well, so to say.

“That’s something that obviously encourages me to keep going.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.