• Australian Open

Djokovic: I lost to a better player

ESPN staff
January 21, 2014
Novak Djokovic indicated he is moving in the right direction with new coach Boris Becker © Getty Images

Novak Djokovic has revealed he is "satisified" with the start made under new head coach Boris Becker despite crashing out of the Australian Open at the quarter-final stage.

Djokovic was ousted by the in-form Stanislas Wawrinka following a five-set thriller at Melbourne Park, which ended a 28-match winning streak for the Serb.

In December, Djokovic hired Becker as his new head coach in the hope of developing a 'mental edge' when it came to grand slams. During the defeat to Wawrinka, Djokovic made a decision that ultimately cost him a 15th consecutive grand slam semi-final appearance.

Feeling the heat

Rafael Nadal made it through to the second week in Melbourne © Getty Images

Much like Becker during his playing days, Djokovic gambled and rushed to the net to play the serve and volley; however, despite placing the volley wide, the defending champion stated it was the correct decision.

"[Wawrinka] had been blocking my serve," Djokovic said. "He'd been chipping the return for the whole match basically. And it was actually a good decision. I had a good serve and volley and good volley, but didn't put it away.

"It's been the first official tournament for us [him and Becker]. I'm satisfied with things that we've been talking about, working on. Of course, it's unfortunate that we finished the tournament in the quarter-finals. But it's the beginning of the season and we'll see what's coming next.

"He's [Wawrinka] in great form. In the last 15 months he's had the best results. He's established now in the top 10, he's been winning against top players in big tournaments, he won against Murray in the US Open last year.

"So he knows how to play on the big stage. You could feel that with his game. He's really taking it to the opponent and stepping in. When you're playing like this, the only thing I can say is congratulations.

"Unfortunately somebody has to lose in the end - this year it was me. I lost to a better player."

Meanwhile, Warwrinka was full of praise for his opponent and indicated it was a tough challenge out on court, but had deserved the win on the night.

"I had to stay really aggressive," Wawrinka told the atpworldtour.com. "I had to push him a lot, because to be ahead in the score, it's always an advantage, especially here [in Melbourne] where the courts are fast and with the windy conditions.

"[Djokovic] is an amazing champion. He always fights. Last time he found solutions against me in the fifth set. He was the better player then. But not tonight. I won the match because I really, really tried to find solutions tonight.

"I had to fight within myself to fight against him and try to play my game. That means being really aggressive and serving better. I came on the court tonight with a lot of confidence in myself, knowing that if I play my best game, I would always have a chance against him."

Wawrinka used his post-match press conference to pay tribute to his coach, former world No. 2 Magnus Norman, and was pleased with the progress in working with him.

"We have had some amazing result already; this is my second semi-final with him," Wawrinka said. "He's there. He's pushing me every day in practice court before and after match. He's a great guy and really good coach. So far we are enjoying working together."

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