BELGRADE, April 22, 2021
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic advanced to the quarterfinals of the Serbia Open. The 33-year-old defeated Soonwoo Kwon from South Korea 6-1, 6-3 on Wednesday afternoon in Belgrade.
“I played well from the beginning, except for the service game that I lost at 5-2. I continued well, served well when I needed to, I felt great,” Djokovic said after the match. “Playing on the court where I train often – which is my home base – is nice but I find it strange that there’s no audience. Seeing your family, those closest to me, friends, everyone who came, next to the court is nice. They were allowed to attend back then. Playing here is inspiring. We had bad luck with the rain, although the central court is in excellent condition. It’s nice to be back at the Serbia Open.”
The top seed of the ATP 250 tournament also referred to the fact that he can sleep at home during the week in Belgrade.
“It’s a unique feeling, I can see my family and friends. Playing in front of them is a nice feeling. I am happy that this tournament was organized. This is important to both my brother and me, we received a lot of positive comments. This will give us encouragement for the next year, to be even better. We will have another men’s and women’s tournament soon, a challenger for women. I am proud that we now have many good tournaments in Serbia. We want to enable local players to compete at a high level, to build self-esteem, gain experience and win points.”
— Serbia Open Official (@SerbiaOpen2021) April 22, 2021
The surprising loss to Daniel Evans last week at the Monte-Carlo Masters is something, Djokovic left behind.
“I think that, sometimes, losing a match is even desirable and, if I could choose when that would happen, then it would be the beginning of the season on clay. That indicated to me how I should play. Now I have a free day and then a I will play Kecmanovic. It would be best for one of the home players to play in the finals. I’ve already forgotten my match with Evans. I’m happy with how I played today so I can move on.”
Breathing exercises are important
Stefanos Tsitsipas recently spoke about the importance of breathing exercises, which Djokovic has been doing for years.
“They are very important. They are one of the focal points in my daily life and not just tennis. I managed to incorporate that, the so-called conscious breathing, into my daily routine. Meditation is many things but, as professionals in a dynamic sport like this, we constantly have to be very energetic both physically and mentally when we are on the court. I’m glad Stefanos is doing the same but that’s probably not the only thing that contributed to his success in Monte Carlo. Everyone knows what’s best for them. That’s my formula, I use it in my own way.”
What’s it like to play against tennis players from Serbia
Djokovic will face Miomir Kecmanovic in the quarterfinals and he spoke about his approach when playing against Serbian players. He also reflected on Laslo Djere’s statement that, before his match, he was nervous because the tournament is taking place in Belgrade, with advice on what to do in such situations.
“I always prepare in a similar way, regardless of where the player is from. I will do my analysis, like, he played well, clay is his favourite surface. The fact that the tournament is in Belgrade can be motivating but there is a thin line between the best tennis and weak tennis, because of the pressure. Unlike when you’re playing abroad, here you feel you have to win. I totally get Laslo, I feel the same. My experience allows me to deal with that and to behave differently – to have better control over the emotions that go through my body and head. The more matches you play, the better you will feel. Also, you should maintain your routine before each tournament. They should try not to think about things that are outside the court and focus on the tournament.”
Novak the snail
Recently, in a karst spring near Podgorica, Montenegro, a new species of snail was discovered and named after him. Djokovic spoke about it through laughter.
“I am honoured that a new species of snail was named after me because I am a big fan of nature and ecosystems and I appreciate all kinds of animals and plants. I try to live in harmony with nature. The news made me laugh. I don’t know how symbolic this is because, throughout my career, I always tried to be fast and then a snail was named after me. Maybe it’s a message for me, telling me to slow down a bit.”