Leaving Belgrade and settling in Monte Carlo almost 15 years ago, world no. 1 Novak Djokovic visits his hometown with strong emotions. One of the greatest players of all time and the most decorated competitor of the previous decade had the opportunity to play and win the ATP 250 event in front of the home fans in Belgrade in the past, returning this weekend to spend time with them.
Kicking off the season with a perfect 18-0 score, Novak claimed the ATP Cup title for Serbia before claiming his 17th Major title in Melbourne, beating Dominic Thiem in a thrilling final. In his last official ATP event of the season, Novak won another crown in Dubai, hoping for more of the same in Indian Wells and Miami before the coronavirus halted the action at least until August.
Spending the last couple of months in Spain, Novak had returned home and organized the Adria Tour at his Tennis Centre in Belgrade, gathering Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov in a two-day festival of tennis in the Serbian capital.
On Saturday, Novak defeated Viktor Troicki before losing to Filip Krajinovic, hoping to beat Alexander Zverev in straight sets on Sunday to top the group and set the place in the final.
Instead, the German won the second set to knock out Djokovic who scored a 4-0, 1-4, and 4-2 victory that propelled Filip Krajinovic into the title match. Zverev had six double faults and dreadful two out of 13 points after missing the first serve, winning the second set and having an early chance in the third.
Djokovic secured a break in the second game of the match, holding at love to confirm the advantage and landing a perfect drop shot for another break in game four, taking the opener in swift 12 minutes. Facing a break point in the second game of the second set, the German survived another dangerous moment and gained momentum that carried him through the rest of the set.
He stole Novak's serve in game three and again at 3-1 after a forehand error from the home favorite, sending Djokovic out from the competition. "It was emotional during the last couple of days; I would love to thank everyone who supports this event.
Thank you for coming, I have enjoyed. I'm not crying for not reaching the final; the emotions are all over me and I have remembered my childhood. I love you all." Novak Djokovic bounced back to rattle off the last three games of the decider and grab the second win of the competition, allowing his compatriot Filip Krajinovic to fight for the title.