World no. 2 Novak Djokovic is competing in front of the home crowd for the second time within a month, entering the Belgrade 2 ATP 250 event as the clear favorite for the title. In the opening match, Novak struggled a bit against the German Mats Moraing, especially in the second set, raising his level today and storming over Federico Coria 6-1, 6-0 in 55 minutes for a place in the semis.
Fifteen years ago, Novak battled against Federico's brother Guillermo, and he got a chance to play the younger Coria at the home event, dominating from start to finish to move into the last four. Today's victory was Novak's 952nd on the ATP tour, passing Guillermo Canas and standing fifth on the Open era list, only behind Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer, Ivan Lendl and Rafael Nadal.
Novak lost eight points behind the initial shot against Federico, suffering one break while he was already in front and stealing the rival's serve six times to race over the top in one of his best matches of the season so far.
Djokovic held at 15 with a service winner in the opening game and scored a break in the next one after a short forehand crosscourt winner and four game points that the Argentine wasted. The Serb confirmed the advantage with a hold at 15 and secured another break for a 4-0 lead in just over 20 minutes.
Novak Djokovic became the fifth player in the Open era with 952 ATP victories.
Out of a sudden, Coria showed his skills in game five to earn a break at love with a forehand winner at the net, avoiding a bagel and hoping for more of the same in the games to come.
Instead of that, he sprayed a backhand mistake in the sixth game to fall 5-1 behind and allowed Novak to seal the opener with a perfect volley winner a few minutes later. World no. 1 grabbed a break at the beginning of the second set with a smash winner and held at love with an ace for a 6-1, 2-0 lead.
Coria sprayed a backhand error to get broken in the third game before Djokovic landed a forehand winner that sent him 4-0 ahead. Federico lost serve in game five following a double fault, and Novak moved over the top with a service winner a few minutes later for a place in the semis.