Serbia secured first place in Group E of the United Cup in Perth and will face hosts Australia on Wednesday in the quarter-final match. A challenge that was anything but simple for Novak Djokovic and his team. Olga Danilovic tried to achieve the feat against Marketa Vondrousova, who took home the victory in three sets with the final score of 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
With his back practically against the wall, Djokovic took to the court with the aim of equalizing the score again. Nole started the match off great by practically cornering Jiri Lehecka, who was unable to do anything against the game imposed by the winner of 24 Grand Slam titles and lost the first set with a clear 6-1.
The match, which seemed to be in absolute control of the Serbian, took a surprising turn in the second. A wrist injury has significantly limited the ATP No.1. The Czech tennis player took advantage of this and courageously extended the match to the third set after winning the tie-break 7-3.
In the third set Djokovic adapted to his physical problem and reacted like a champion to the difficulties. Lehecka surrendered and suffered another very severe and somewhat unexpected 6-1. In doubles, it was Hamad Medjedovic who paired with Olga Danilovic to face the duo of Miriam Kolodziejova and Petr Nouza.
The Serbian team never lost its determination and desire to win, even when it was down 5-1 in the first set, and was able to come back to win the final tie-break match (4-6, 7-6, 10 -8).
At the end of the match Nole expressed his satisfaction with his team's victory, also talking about the wrist problem suffered before the match.
However, doubts remain related to the wrist injury, despite Nole himself defined it not too worrying. In the next few hours it will be understood whether this problem will affect the Serbian in his approach towards the 2024 Australian Open.
What is certain is that if Djokovic does not recover in time, the situation ahead of Melbourne could become complex for him.
The words of Novak Djokovic
The Serbian champion has been affected by a wrist injury which is a bit worrying in view of the next Australian Open.
"I hope it's nothing serious, it happened in today's warm-up before the match. Basically I underwent constant treatment before the match, during the match, after the match, to try to solve the problem I'm facing today in the best possible way.
It's not the first time I've faced this type of circumstance at such a high level of professional tennis. I think it's not a big problem, because I still managed to finish the match and play well, even though maybe I didn't feel 100%, but it still allowed me to finish the match.
Obviously it's a little worrying. I hope to have enough time to recover for tomorrow's match against Australia, which will be held in the afternoon, so more time for us," clarified Djokovic.
In the next round the 36-year-old Serbian will face home idol Alex de Minaur.
"Regardless of who is on the other side of the net, I try to make my contribution to my country. This week we said several times that we are a great team, we are creating great chemistry. Regardless of the team we play against, we want to win.
Tomorrow we play against a home country, the stadium will probably be packed. They are very strong, especially in doubles and also in singles, they are very complete. I think the mixed doubles we won today and a few days ago against China was a pleasant surprise for us, given the lack of doubles players.
We know that if it's 1-1 after singles we're probably not favorites against anyone, but we'll definitely fight until the end," said Nole. The ATP No.1 then commented on his performance against Lehecka: "I started very well, but he managed to turn the situation around.
I think he was very consistent from the middle of the second set until the end of the set, and he deservedly won the second set. I lowered my level, I didn't serve well, like in the first and third sets, but the credit goes to him, he was more aggressive, he moved well and was good.
I think it was exciting for the crowd to see a hard-fought second set and take the match to the third. For me it was essential to make a break at the start, which I did. The third set was really good for finishing the match the way I ended it and feeling good about my game”.