Novak Djokovic - US Open 2023

Novak Djokovic explains why he felt so much compassion for opponent

Novak Djokovic explained that his first thought after winning the Paris Masters was to show opponent Grigor Dimitrov some compassion.

Djokovic beat the Bulgarian 6-4, 6-3 to extend his winning streak to 18 matches. It was also a 40th Masters title for the world number one, who has become the first player to hit that milestone.

However, after a quick change of shirt, it was Dimitrov who was Djokovic’s first thought as he made a point of embracing his opponent.

Speaking to the press after the match, he said it felt like the empathetic thing to do based on his own experiences.

“I’ve been in these situations before many times, losing finals,” Novak Djokovic told reporters. “I really hope that he will continue to play on a high level because he’s been playing some of his best tennis this week.”

“We both were quite tight at the beginning – it seemed he was running out of gas a little bit, myself as well.”

Grigor Dimitrov back to battling Novak Djokovic

Despite the defeat, there can be little doubt that Dimitrov has enjoyed a career renaissance of late.

At one point, Dimitrov was the rising star of the ATP. He won the 2017 ATP Finals to rise to number three in the world. It was a brand and level of tennis that earned him the nickname ‘Baby Fed’ due to the similarities to the game of Roger Federer.

However, Dimitrov then suffered an inexplicable decline, during which he was even at risk of dropping out of the world top 100 at one point.

In fact, Paris Bercy was his first Masters final in six years, and he will be back inside the top 15 next week.

So what has prompted this unturn in fortunes? He has explained it and hinted that events off the court in his life have often got the best of him – and confronting them has been the key.

“I think for me where I’m at right now, you know, things in a way, they’re going my way, but also I’m looking for them as well,” Dimitrov said.

“I’m not waiting for my opponent to do something with it or I’m not waiting for them to miss. I want to win or lose on my own terms.

“That brings me back again to another point, how everything has been happening on and off the court in my life is the same thing. I can control my attitude, and I don’t want to feel sorry for myself for the past years. I don’t want to feel like I have missed opportunities. Yes, have I? Yeah, of course, too many, if you ask me. Have I made mistakes? Yes, too many.

“There comes a point where it’s like, OK, I’m accepting all that had been thrown at me, what I had to face, and I continue. I get to have another chance. So when you get that chance, try to use it. So I’m trying to give myself a chance.

“I don’t feel like that. You know, I felt like I’ve never left. In the same time, of course, did I have a very hard time? Yeah, I did. Have I been through a lot of ups and downs? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I’m not shy to say it or to think any other way.

“I think just I’m enjoying every moment that I get out there to play tennis right now. I think as an athlete you never know when it might be your last time, injury or something happens, God forbid.

“So many other things, they don’t matter, but what matters when you get out there is the time that you have certain windows throughout the match to live that moment.”

READ MORE: ATP Finals: Format, history, qualification criteria and statistics

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Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.