Novak Djokovic did not just lose for the first time since 2018 at the Australian Open when Djokovic lost to Jannik Sinner in the semifinals. Sinner destroyed arguably the greatest player ever. The first two sets were the worst Djokovic had looked in years and very likely the worst he had ever played in a Grand Slam event.
The loss made the two previous matches Djokovic played leading up to the semifinals look like a lie. After struggling somewhat to begin the year at the United Cup and then not being at his best to begin the Australian Open, Djokovic appeared to have corrected in the fourth round and quarterfinals. He hadn't, though.
Sinner exposed Djokovic for how mortal the Serb is when Novak Djokovic does not have a great serve working. While Djokovic is probably the best returner in the history of tennis, he, like every other player, needs an offensive game to go with that. But Sinner outplayed Djokovic even when returning Djokovic's serve due to how poor the Serb's serve was.
Novak Djokovic admitted to being outplayed by Jannik Sinner
Djokovic handled the loss with pure class, however. While acknowledging he had not played his best, he also admitted that Sinner was the better player in the semifinals. One might wonder if Djokovic is beginning to think that Sinner is simply the better player overall now. The Italian has beaten Djokovic in three of four matches since November.
Speaking on Eurosport, former No. 1 Boris Becker pointed out Djokovic's response to his loss. Becker appeared to gain even more respect for Djokovic in the defeat. Anyone can live with winning, but losing graciously is a lot more difficult. This is especially true for Novak Djokovic who certainly does not lose often and has not had to work on his speeches in assuming he won't win.
Becker said on Eurosport, "I don’t usually see (Djokovic) this relaxed after defeats. Perhaps he has realized that he doesn’t have the form at the moment and that he didn’t lose due to bad luck, but that the other player was simply better today. That’s what makes a champion, recognizing that today just wasn’t his day."
Djokovic isn't quite ready to give in to losing for good, however. He made clear after the match that his loss "doesn't necessarily mean that it's beginning of the end." Very likely, Djokovic will be battling for titles for the foreseeable future.