Serbian credits opponent's bold play

Following his 7-5, 6-7(5), 7-6(2) defeat to Jannik Sinner on Tuesday at the Nitto ATP Finals, Novak Djokovic greeted the Italian home favourite with a warm embrace at the net. His goodwill continued in his post-match press conference, where he was full of praise for his opponent's play.

"You have to just congratulate him. He just played a fantastic match," the Serbian said. "That's what I told him at the net. I think in the most important moments, he played his best game and he absolutely deserved to win."

Djokovic was especially complimentary of Sinner's aggressive play during the crucial moments, with the Italian connecting on a flurry of big ground strokes during the close of the first and third sets.

"I think the main difference is that in the important points, he was going for it, he was more courageous," said the World No. 1. "He deserved to win because in important moments I wasn't aggressive enough, I wasn't decisive enough. I gave him the opportunity to take the control over the points."

While Djokovic could find little fault with his own game overall, he did take a lesson from the defeat.

"I think I learned that in some moments I have to be a bit more decisive. I wasn't today. That's OK," he said. "Some you win, some you lose. Most of my career I was winning these kind of matches. Some I lost, like the one tonight."

Djokovic's task was made doubly difficult by the Italian crowd's constant support for Sinner, as well as the 22 year-old's desire to notch his first win in their Lexus ATP Head2Head series. But Djokovic is used to playing with a proverbial target on his back.

"They want to take the scalp. Jannik did that tonight," he said. "It's normal to lose some of the matches like this, but I have to be content with the fight, the fighting spirit. I managed to make a comeback from a set down, a break down in the third set, playing in really challenging and difficult conditions on the court today.

"I'm proud of the fight that I put in. It just wasn't enough for the win."