'Novak Djokovic was trying to survive but...', says top coach

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'Novak Djokovic was trying to survive but...', says top coach

Once the first big stop of the season on clay is over, a couple of events on the ATP circuit are coming, including a 250 in Belgrade that promises several emotions. The presence of the Serbian Novak Djokovic, current number one in the world, steals the spotlight, but there are other great figures such as the Austrian Dominic Thiem who hope to gain sensations ahead of Roland Garros.

After the draw for the main draw was held, "Nole" appeared as the first seed and, like the other three main favorites, he just had to debut in the second round of the contest where he will face the winner of the clash between his compatriots Laslo Djere and Medjedovic.

In the same quadrant, there is Thiem himself and also Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, one of the most fit players on the circuit. In that same upper part of the table there are other threats such as the Russian Karen Khachanov (3), the Serbian Filip Krajinovic (8) and the Belgian David Goffin.

For its part, the lower sector is headed by the Russian Andrey Rublev (2), who will debut in the second instance against the winner of the duel between the Swiss Henri Laaksonen and a player from qualifying. The other three seeded in the lower sector are the Russian Aslán Karatsev (4), the Chilean Christian Garín (5) and the Italian Fabio Fognini (6).

Beyond the Russian army, clearly Novak Djokovic starts as the opponent to beat, but his long inactivity could show him once again weaker than usual with very dangerous rivals in the home draw.

Paul Annacone on Nole Djokovic

During the Tennis Channel discussion, Paul Annacone also assessed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina's upset victory over Novak Djokovic at the 2022 Monte-Carlo Masters.

The former World No. 12 praised the 22-year-old Spaniard's resilience in earning the biggest win of his career. "He wants to come back in an environment where he can see how he's doing," Annacone said. "He was trying to survive today, this was a battle of attrition for the guys out there to see who could really manage the situation.

And you have to give the 22-year-old a ton of credit. Every time Novak snuck back in, I would take a breath and go, 'Oh, here comes the great player - time for the young guy to go away.' And he didn't, he did a great job in the big moments," Annacone continued.

"Particularly, start of the third set, down break point in the first game, held and then ran away with it. It was impressive."