Djokovic Starts Home Campaign At Serbia Open

Novak Djokovic (photo: Serbia Open)


Novak Djokovic opened his home campaign at the Serbia Open on a rain-interrupted Wednesday in Belgrade. The World No. 1 eased past Soonwoo Kwon of South Korea 6-1, 6-3.

Djokovic won 81 per cent of his first-service points and converted five of his eight break-point chances to advance to the quarterfinals after 68 minutes.

“I thought I played very well from the very beginning, except that service game that I lost at 5-2 in the second [set]. I thought it was a pretty flawless performance,” Djokovic said. “I moved well, I was mixing up the pace quite well, making him play. I served well in the important moments, [and] overall I just felt great.”

Djokovic will continue his pursuit of a third Belgrade title against fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic. The No. 8 seed battled past French qualifier Arthur Rinderknech 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 earlier in the day. Kecmanovic withstood 10 aces and broke his opponent’s serve five times to prevail after one hour and 41 minutes.

“It will be exciting, I never played against the best in the world. I played against Rafael Nadal, and the two of them are the best. I hope that I will prove my quality as a player,” said Kecmanović and added:

“We have trained a lot together. My main goal was to reach the quarterfinal here, I won against two lower-ranked opponents and it was expected that I would win. I will try to play a good match against Novak.”

The 21-year-old Belgrade native also commented on the current situation with the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

“I don’t think it’s good or bad, I’m trying out many things and trying to bring my game to a higher level. You have to be better at everything. That requires seriousness, professionalism, a different kind of thinking. Everything you do needs to be on a higher level. I push myself to train even harder.”

Berrettini begins title bid

In other action, No. 2 seed Matteo Berrettini defeated fellow Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 21 minutes.

“First of all I’m happy to be back on the court,” Berrettini said. “It was tough for me. I never had this kind of injury, so I didn’t really know how it would get better, get worse. It was tough. Also mentally, it’s not easy to go and serve full [on] when you know that something happened there.

“But I’m happy now. I’m happy with my performance and also for my physical conditioning. I think it’s good. In this moment, with my team, we said that I have to play as many matches as possible, so that is what we are trying to do.”

Up next for the World No. 10 will be No. 5 seed Filip Krajinovic, who emerged victorious from the all-Serbian affair with wild card entry Nikola Milojevic 6-1, 6-1. The encounter lasted 69 minutes.