Former doubles Grand Slam champion Chanda Rubin called Novak Djokovic surviving a tricky Belgrade opener a "big win" Djokovic, seeded at No. 1, had a first round in Belgrade before he took on fellow compatriot Laslo Djere in the round-of-16.
Djokovic was on the verge of losing the match but recovered to beat Djere 2-6 7-6 (6) 7-6 (4). Had Djokovic lost, he would have been 0-2 during the clay season as last week he suffered a shock defeat to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his Monte Carlo opener.
"It's tough for Djokovic - he hasn't had the matches this year, and you kind of thought he'll pick up where he left off. Clearly not," Rubin said on Tennis Channel, per Sportskeeda. "He's been struggling with the consistency Djokovic has, and I think even the confidence in big moments - when to go for his shots, when to pull the trigger.
You see a little bit of him second-guessing himself."
Djokovic recovered to beat Djere
Djere came close to a victory as, after breaking Djokovic in the seventh game of the second set for a 6-2 4-3 lead, he had two consecutive game points in the eighth game.
Djere missed out on two game points as Djokovic went on to claim a comeback win. "But, I think to get through that match in three sets - gotta little help from his opponent and he'll take it, however you can get it," Rubin added.
"I think for Djokovic, getting through this match is a big win, a big boost for him. It gives him a chance to play another day. Hopefully, physically he'll recover enough, that's always the question when you don't have a lot of matches on the year."
Belgrade is Djokovic's just third tournament of the year. Djokovic hasn't played much this year but he faces no restrictions when it comes to playing at tournaments during the clay season.