United Cup 2024: Djokovic wrist injury dooms Serbia to Australia defeat in quarterfinal

Djokovic’s 43-match win streak in Australia ended with a 6-4, 6-4 loss to de Minaur in the United Cup quarterfinals in Perth. Tomljanovic sealed the 2-0 win for Australia.

Published : Jan 03, 2024 19:09 IST , Perth, Australia - 3 MINS READ

Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action. | Photo Credit: AP

Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action. | Photo Credit: AP

Novak Djokovic suffered a frustrating fitness saga as a wrist problem led to the Serb’s upset 6-4, 6-4 loss to Australia’s Alex de Minaur in the quarterfinals of the United Cup in Perth on Wednesday.

Djokovic, who received multiple massages on court on his troublesome right wrist -- hurt in training 24 hours earlier -- fell victim to an inspired de Minaur, who led his side into the weekend semifinals in Sydney.

Ajla Tomljanovic then sealed the 2-0 win for the team with her 6-1, 6-1 defeat of Serb 184th-ranked substitute Natalija Stevanovic.

Stevanovic had replaced an exhausted Olga Danilovic, who featured in previous ties here alongside Djokovic.

World number one Djokovic produced 31 unforced errors as his 43-match win streak in Australia was ended after 93 minutes on court against de Minaur.

“I was not on my level, it was just one of these days where you didn’t feel your best,” Djokovic said.

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“Your opponent played very well. That’s all I can say.

“I think I have enough time to get myself in the right shape for the Australian Open, and that’s what matters the most at this point.

“I knew I was not going to be at 100 per cent physically, emotionally, mentally game-wise in the opening week of a season.

“It’s all a part of the build-up for the Australian Open, that’s where I want to perform at my best.”

Victory marked revenge for the low-key de Minaur, beaten by Djokovic a year ago at the Australian Open.

The 24-year-old Australian was recording his first victory over a world number one, adding Djokovic to a list which also includes Rafael Nadal, the number two whom he beat here a year ago.

“This was extremely special, Novak is an unbelievable competitor,” de Minaur said.

“This feels surreal, I’m happy to do it here in Australia. When you go against Novak you just have to try and enjoy it.

“You must keep fighting to the end. Today was my day -- I’m happy I was able to get the win.

“This one means a lot.”

Djokovic was seen twice by the trainer in the opening set and at one point said: “The more I’m playing, it’s getting worse.”

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The 36-year-old with 10 Australian Open trophies was broken once per set, his second mis-cue coming on a double-fault.

Earlier, top-ranked Poland overpowered China, with Hubert Hurkacz and Iga Swiatek propelling them into the semi-finals with a singles sweep.

In Sydney, journeyman Mannarino, who enjoyed his best-ever season last year, swept past Lorenzo Sonego 6-4, 6-4 before Garcia overcame a stubborn Jasmine Paolini 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

It gave France an unassailable 2-0 lead to put them into the knockout rounds.

The last quarterfinal slot will be decided when Greece meet Canada, with the winner facing the best runner-up from group play in Sydney.

The Sydney quarterfinals are played on Thursday and Friday before the semis on Saturday and the final a day later.

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