Karatsev Shocks Djokovic, Reaches Serbia Open Final

Aslan Karatsev (photo: Srdjan StevanovicStarsportphoto)


Third seed Aslan Karatsev clinched the biggest victory of his career by knocking out World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in Saturday’s semi-finals of the Serbia Open in Belgrade. The 28-year-old in-form Russian, who celebrated his maiden ATP Tour triumph in Dubai last month, saved 23 of the 28 break points he faced against Djokovic and capitalized on six of his own 16 break-point chances to record a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 stunner after three hours and 25 minutes.

“This is definitely the biggest win of my career, it’s the World No. 1. I’m really happy, I put everything on the court. The match was long. I’m really happy with my performance today,” Karatsev said.

“It was a long, tough match [against a] tough opponent. You have to put [in] like 200 per cent to beat this guy, it’s like playing against a wall. And he also made some good shots. He doesn’t give you any free points. He always makes you play and you have to be always there because once you miss a couple of shots, he just takes it very quickly. That’s how I lost the second set.”

Djokovic gave a mixed review of his own performance at the Novak Tennis Center. “From my side, I played on quite a low level, in my opinion,” said the 33-year-old Serbian. “[I had] some flashes of good quality tennis. I was fighting. That is a positive. I was really trying all the way [and] the crowd was great. They carried me and tried to lift me up, all the way to the end. Because of them, I think I won the second set. Unfortunately in the third, he was just the better player in the decisive moments. I had my chances, but that is sport.”

Berrettini fights past Daniel

Later in the evening and under the lights on Center Court, No. 2 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy booked his spot in the final following a 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-0 win over Japanese lucky loser Taro Daniel. The World No. 10 from Italy struck seven aces and won 77 per cent of his first-service points to prevail after two hour and seven minutes.

Karatsev and Berrettini, who is seeking his fourth ATP Tour crown, his first since the MercedesCup in Stuttgart 2019, will meet for the first time.

Sabanov Bros. earn maiden title

In other action, Ivan Sabanov and Matej Sabanov took the doubles title. The siblings from Croatia defeated Ariel Behar from Uruguay and Gonzalo Escobar from Ecuador 6-3, 7-6(3) in one hour and 30 minutes.

Coming into the event, the 28-year-old twin brothers had only won one tour-level doubles match, reaching the quarter-finals in Montpellier last year.

“It’s definitely been a dream-come-true week for us, it’s been amazing,” Ivan said in their post-match press conference. “Since the first match, we beat the third seeds and we realised we have a really good level. We kept playing good, and then everything was like a dream for us. I still don’t even think we realise that we won the tournament. We could not predict something like this.”

The Sabanov Bros. split €34,510 in prize money and earned 250 ATP Doubles Ranking points.