The defending champion Novak Djokovic had to work hard in the Serbia Open second round. Novak faced the fellow Serb Laslo Djere and scored a 2-6, 7-6, 7-6 triumph in three hours and 21 minutes! It was Djokovic's third victory of the season, struggling a lot but crossing the finish line before the younger compatriot.
Laslo won 135 points, three more than Novak, and had an opportunity to seal the deal in the decider's tie break. However, he sprayed a massive error at 4-5 to lose chances and hit the exit door. Djere defended 12 out of 14 break points and seized four breaks from 12 opportunities, doing his best to prevail but ending on the losing side.
Unlike in Monte Carlo, Djokovic preserved some energy for the final set and survived an ultimate challenge ahead of the clash against Miomir Kecmanovic. Djokovic sprayed a forehand error in the encounter's opening game to experience an early break.
Djere held at love in game two with a service winner to cement the advantage and settle into a fine rhythm. Novak saved a break point in game three and two more at 1-3 to stay within one break deficit. Laslo served well in games four and six to open a 4-2 gap and challenged Novak again in game seven.
The older Serb served under 50% and got broken to fall 5-2 behind after Djere's forehand down the line winner. Serving for the opener, Laslo fended off a break chance in game eight and seized the fourth set point with a forehand down the line winner for 6-2 and a massive boost.
Djokovic raised his level in set number two and produced three comfortable holds to find the rhythm. However, Djere fended off three break points in the second game and grabbed a break at 3-3 to move closer to the finish line.
Novak broke back in the next one to lock the result at 4-4 and extend his chances. Djokovic saved a break point in game nine and earned three set points on the return at 6-5.
Novak Djokovic defeated Laslo Djere in the deciding tie break in Belgrade.
Laslo stayed calm and defended them to reach a tie break, a must-winning one for Novak.
The defending champion forged a 6-4 advantage and seized the third set point with a backhand crosscourt winner to force a decider after over two hours. Djokovic grabbed an extended rally at the beginning of the final set to secure a break.
Djere pulled it back in game two, and they both served well in the following games to stay neck and neck. Novak had to work hard in game eight, fending off two break points and extending an incredible battle with a backhand winner at the net.
World no. 1 held at 15 in game ten with a service winner for 5-5 and more drama. After wasting five game points in game 11, Djere faced a break point and fended it off with a fearless forehand winner. Laslo denied another break point after a lucky net cord forehand winner to extend this marathon game.
The lower-ranked player finally held with a drop shot winner after eight deuces, with not much left in either of them. Laslo stayed calm and claimed the 12th game at love with a forehand winner to introduce a tie break. Djokovic moved 2-1 up with a forehand winner, and Djere followed that pace for 2-2.
Laslo fired a forehand winner to move in front and attacked in the seventh point to grab a mini-break. Djokovic secured the following two points to erase the deficit and hit a service winner for 6-4 and two match points. Novak converted the first after Laslo's loose backhand to seal the deal and advance into the quarter-final.