Young Italian Lorenzo Sonego stunned World No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-2, 6-1 on Friday for the biggest win of his career, advancing to the Erste Bank Open semi-finals.
“For sure it’s the best victory of my life. Novak is the best in the world. Today I played so, so good,” Sonego said in his on-court interview. “It’s unbelievable. It’s amazing.”
Miracles do happen. Just five days ago, the Italian lost a three-setter in the final round of Vienna qualifying against Aljaz Bedene. The 25-year-old, who entered the main draw as a lucky loser replacing Diego Schwartzman, has not lost a set since, playing his top level to shock the 81-time tour-level titlist after 68 minutes. “I played the best match in my life,” Sonego said. “I’m so happy for this.”
Djokovic let slip a chance to guarantee his spot atop the year-end ATP Rankings this week. Had the Serbian won the Vienna title, he would have tied Pete Sampras’ record with six year-end No. 1 finishes. He falls to 39-3 on the season.
Sonego had not won a set in three previous matches against Top 10 opponents. But the World No. 42 held his nerve to become the first lucky loser to defeat Djokovic (1-12). The top seed earned six break points in two games in the second set, but Sonego rose to the occasion to maintain his advantage. It seemed Djokovic needed one momentum-shifting point to dig his teeth into the match, but Sonego didn’t allow that with his consistently high level. Djokovic made an unusually high number of unforced errors, which gave Sonego confidence. The Serbian dumped a neutral forehand into the net to relinquish a service break in the first game of the match and that set the tone.
Interestingly, Sonego is the first Italian to beat a World No. 1 since Fabio Fognini beat Andy Murray at the 2017 Internazionali BNL d’Italia.