Novak Djokovic avoids another huge upset with epic Belgrade battle victory
Novak Djokovic has narrowly avoided another big loss, this time in an epic match back home in Serbia, as he continues to find his feet on the European clay.
The 20-time Slam champion had tempered expectations ahead of his home tournament, only hoping to at least get one win on the Belgrade clay.
Fortunately for Djokovic he has achieved that goal by downing fellow Serb and world number 50 Laslo Djere 2-6, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-4) after nearly three and a half hours on court, continuing his bid for a third career title at the ATP 250 event.
The win brings Djokovic to 3-2 across three events so far in 2022, having previously played the Dubai Tennis Championships in February and the Monte Carlo Masters earlier this month.
Moreover, today’s result means he stops a third successive loss against players ranked outside the ATP top 40.
The moment @DjokerNole prevailed in an epic contest with Djere in Belgrade…#SerbiaOpen pic.twitter.com/DOnP4OHV96
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) April 20, 2022
Jiri Vesely was ranked 123rd in the world in Dubai, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina was 46th during Monte Carlo, and Djere is 50th this week in Belgrade.
On both previous occasions, Djokovic’s conqueror went on to reach the final, Vesely losing to Andrey Rublev in the championship match in Dubai while Davidovich Fokina fell to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Monte Carlo.
Djokovic will now look to make the Belgrade final himself, with another compatriot lying in wait up next.
With victory Djokovic sets up an all-Serbian quarter-final against in-form 22-year-old Miomir Kecmanovic, who sits at a joint career-high 38th in the ATP rankings.
That guarantees at least one home semi-finalist at the tournament, with world number 45 Filip Krajinovic also vying to reach the last four in his nation’s capital.
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