Novak Djokovic recalls: 'I wanted to play at night, but organizers refused that'

“I wanted to play at night, but the organizers refused”

Novak Djokovic struggled a lot in his early years on the tour, demanding medical time-outs and garnering some retirements. Djokovic couldn’t last a full game against Roger Federer in Monte Carlo in 2008, and he was eliminated by Andy Roddick at the Australian Open next January.

As a result, Novak was unable to defend Melbourne’s claimed crown a year ago. After a couple of grueling encounters, he wasn’t feeling well and left the pitch while Andy was leading 6-7, 6-4, 6-2, 2-1 after two and a half hours. Roddick lost the opening set but there was nothing wrong with his game. He hit 43 winners and 14 unforced errors to keep the pressure on the defending champion.

Novak clinched the first set and struggled after that, thinking about retiring in the closing stages of the second set but persevering and playing until it was 2-1 in the fourth. Djokovic stayed on the court until 2:30 a.m. against Marcos Baghdatis two days earlier and did not train before facing Roddick.

He wanted to compete during the Night Session, but the organizers refused, exposing him to the scorching sun and high temperatures. There were no breaks in the opening set, and Novak took the first four points of the tiebreak with forehand winners.

Djokovic placed a volley winner at the net 4-2 and secured the set with another powerful forehand at 6-3. Andy snagged the first break at 3-3 in set number two with a smash winner, landing a serve winner at 5-4 to finish the set and get a boost.

Struggling more and more physically, Djokovic lost serve early in the third set. Roddick placed a perfect forehand down the line before getting broken in the next.

Novak Djokovic eliminated Andy Roddick in Melbourne in 2009.

Andy broke again at 2-2 after forcing Novak’s error, holding for 4-2 with another ace down the T-line.

Djokovic fell 5-2 after a double fault, allowing Roddick to end the set with a service winner in the next set. The Serb saved four break points early in the fourth set and fired a backhand at the line winner to avoid an early setback.

Still, he lost serve at love 1-1 and decided to end his misery and retire. “The main reason for my retirement is cramps and pain throughout my body. I was struggling with my movement, that was obvious. From the third set I couldn’t serve like in the previous part of the game and the speed dropped after 20 or 30 km/h which makes it easier for Andy to come back.

He also used the longer rallies judiciously as I struggled with them. I’ve tried my best, but sometimes you can’t fight your body. For me it’s an unfortunate end to the Australian Open. I’ve had retirements in the past, but they’ve always been for a reason: I couldn’t play anymore.

I finished my previous match at 2:30 am and went to bed at 6:00 am as I didn’t have enough time to recover yesterday and didn’t have a training session. Those were challenging circumstances and the conditions today were extreme. Already at the end of the second set I felt bad, but I wanted to do my best and at least try.

I asked to play at night but the organizers refused. I have to turn the page and look to the future,” said Novak Djokovic.

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