Novak Djokovic - Roland Garros 2022

Novak Djokovic blames ‘slow sluggish legs’ for defeat to compatriot

Novak Djokovic has continued his poor start to the clay court season, after losing to fellow Serb Dusan Lajovic at his family run ATP event in Banja Luka.

Djokovic had never previously lost to Lajovic, but fell to a straight sets defeat in his quarter-final in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion was 6-3 up in the second set tie-break, but could not convert his set point opportunities or 15 of his 16 break point chances.

Djokovic reflected on his disappointing result, “I can’t beat opponents who are so solid on this surface with this game. I didn’t even feel good physically on court: I felt slow, with sluggish legs; I missed a lot of balls & was totally out of shot. At times I played well, but well below my level.”

Despite being unhappy with his own performance, Djokovic was very complimentary to Lajovic who he has teamed up with for the Davis Cup and the ATP Cup.

“Dusan is a fantastic person, great guy. Someone I’ve known for a very long time, since he started playing professional tennis. So many times on the Davis Cup team together, trained together. I’m happy for him, to be honest,” said Djokovic.

Djokovic continued, “I know this is an important win for him considering the last 12 months that he’s been through, it’s not been easy for him. He’s playing well and he deserved to win today.”

Lajovic has previously been inside the top 25 and reached the Monte Carlo Masters final in 2019, but over the past year has struggled for form and fell outside the top 100 at the end of last year.

The 32-year-old described the win as the biggest of his career, “I’m overwhelmed, it is the biggest win of my career. The emotions are very mixed because I’m playing here in front of the home town and I’m also playing against Nole, who is a good friend and he’s a hero of our country.”

Lajovic added, “Beating him, it’s something that I didn’t even think is going to be possible, but it happened.”

Novak Djokovic record on clay in 2023

While it is early days in the 2023 clay court season, it is unlikely that Djokovic will be pleased with his performances so far.

Here is how Djokovic has fared on the dirt in his first two tournaments:

Novak Djokovic win-loss record on clay in 2023: 2-2

Monte Carlo 

First Round – Received a bye

Second Round – Djokovic beat Ivan Gakhov, 7-6(5) 6-2

Third Round – Lorenzo Musetti beat Djokovic, 4-6 7-5 6-4

Banja Luka

First Round – Received a bye

Second Round – Djokovic beat Luca van Assche, 6(4)-7 6-3 6-2

Quarter-final – Dusan Lajovic beat Djokovic, 6-4 7-6(6)

The good news for Djokovic is that he still has the Madrid Open and the Italian Open to improve his results, before heading into the second major of the year at Roland Garros.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.