World No. 1 Novak Djokovic apologized to the Belgrade crowd after he ran out of gas in the third set of the final versus Andrey Rublev. Djokovic, seeded at No. 1, was hoping to win his second Belgrade title and also his first title of the year.
Unfortunately for Djokovic and the Belgrade crowd, Rublev delivered a great performance to upset the Serb 6-2 6-7 (4) 6-0. It was Djokovic's fourth third-set match at the tournament. Earlier in the tournament, Djokovic needed three sets to beat Laslo Djere, Miomir Kecmanovic and Karen Khachanov, respectively.
Djokovic was down by a set in each of his four matches played in Belgrade. "I apologise because of the way the 3rd set unfolded. It’s an individual sport, when something fails, the engine can’t work. Lots of emotions, thank you for pushing me to the finals," Djokovic said after the final.
#Djokovic: I apologise because of the way the 3rd set unfolded. It’s an individual sport, when something fails, the engine can’t work. Lots of emotions, thank you for pushing me to the finals. — Saša Ozmo (@ozmo_sasa) April 24, 2022
Djokovic hopes Rublev returns
After the final, Djokovic thanked Rublev for coming to Belgrade and expressed his hope to see the Russian again in the Serbian capital.
"Belgrade and Serbia love you. Andrei, please come back to defend your title," Djokovic told Rublev during the trophy presentation. Rublev, who suffered a straight-set defeat to Djokovic when they met at the ATP Finals last year, showed respect to the 20-time Grand Slam during his on-court speech.
“It is big to play against you and share the court for the second time,” Rublev said to Djokovic during the trophy ceremony. “I hope we have more battles. I feel so great here, it is a very nice city. It feels really special.
I want to say a big thanks to all the spectators for supporting all the players all week. To see full crowds again is special for all of us”. The head-to-head record between Djokovic and Rublev now stands at 1-1.