Nole falls to Llodra in Paris

Second-seeded Novak Djokovic failed in attempt to defend his title at the BNP Paribas Masters. He lost his third round match to world no.34 Frenchman Michael Llodra 6-7(6), 2-6 in 1 hour and 32 minutes.

Novak looked a bit more convincing in the opening set and managed to push Llodra several times to deuce but couldn’t do more. There were no breaks and the set was decided in a tiebreaker. Djokovic had two set points at 6-4, but Llodra saved the first with a stunning backhand across court onto the sideline for a winner, and second by pushing Novak wide across court before putting his backhand volley into the court on the other side. The Frenchman earned the first set point with an ace and took full advantage of it, producing a backhand return winner across court on the Serb’s shorter second serve for 8-6.

Novak couldn’t find his rhythm in the second set. The 23-year-old Belgrade native handed Llodra the two first break points of the match in the third game. The Frenchman converted the second as Djokovic double-faulted. Nole had three break point opportunities to come back into the match, but Llodra served his way out to lead 4-2. The Frenchman made another break in the seventh game and closed the set and match 6-2.

“I have to congratulate him, because he really played, I think, a perfect match,” said Novak after the match. “I don’t think I’ve played bad. Actually, I think I even returned well in the first set. But any time I needed a point when it was important, couple of games in the first set, deuce or 30 All, he came up with a huge serve. I mean, just close to the line, or he came up with an incredible first volley or something like that. All credit to him, he deserved to win.”

Match statistics: aces (4-6), double faults (3-4), winners (21-27), unforced errors (17-17), total points won (62-72).

Last year Novak clinched his 16th career title with a fantastic three sets win over homecrowd favourite Gael Monfils 6-2, 5-7, 7-6(3). This defeat means he will have 910 ATP points less on Monday, November 15.

There are two more challenges for Nole till the rest of the season. He will play at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (November 21-28) for the fourth consecutive year, and he’ll lead Serbia in December’s Davis Cup final against France in Belgrade.

Good luck Nole!

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