Paris: Novak Djokovic, the man who had seemed unstoppable for five months, finally met his match against old hand Roger Federer in the French Open semi-finals on Friday but the Serbian had no regrets.
Djokovic, the 2008 Australian Open champion, had enjoyed a remarkable 41 straight victories in 2011, including another Melbourne Park triumph, and just one more win would have made him world number one but he was beaten 7-6, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6.
In a classic tussle in front of an enthralled Court Philippe Chatrier, the second-seeded Djokovic could not conjure up the magic to outfox 16-times grand slam champion Federer who now meets champion Rafa Nadal in Sunday`s final.
"I don`t regret (anything). What happened, happened really," Djokovic told a news conference in surprisingly upbeat spirits. "There`s not much to be sorry for."
Djokovic had been hoping to win his first French Open title and better John McEnroe`s 1984 record of 42 wins since the start of a season.
"It was the best five months of my life, my tennis career. I cannot complain," he said.
"It was definitely an incredible period. It had to end somewhere. I knew it was coming. Unfortunately, it came in a bad moment. It was a big match today."
Before clashing with the resurgent Federer, Djokovic had hardly looked in danger of losing during his rampant streak.
A cast-iron serve and all-round game have combined with a new-found freedom of movement and an immense will to win.
However, Djokovic had not played since Sunday at Roland Garros after quarter-final opponent Fabio Fognini pulled out injured before their match.
The Serbian did not think the long wait had affected his sharpness but the late finish of the match as sunset approached made a difference after organisers took a risk with the schedule.
"I don`t think it was a disadvantage," he said. "The light was not great. It was very hard to see the serve but it was the same for both of us."
The 24-year-old, on a new gluten-free diet, is a definite contender for his first Wimbledon title in the coming weeks but has pulled out of next week`s Queen`s Club grass tournament to rest.