Skopje Open: Semi-Finals Are Set

Dalibor Svrcina advances to the semi-finals of the Skopje Open

SKOPJE, June 4, 2021

Players have come to the Republic of North Macedonia this week to compete in the Skopje Open, an ITF World Tennis Tour M15 event held at the Tennis Klub Jug, nestled in the City Park.  Skopje is located in the north of the country, in the centre of the Balkan peninsula, and halfway between Belgrade and Athens.

The field is led by World No. 410 Miljan Zekic of Serbia. The top seed defeated Romanian teenager and 2020 Australian Open junior doubles champion Nicholas David Ionel 6-3, 6-2 in Friday’s quarterfinal. In the pair’s first meeting on a sunny day in Skopje, Zekic sent down four aces and won 71 per cent of his first service points to secure victory in one hour and 45 minutes.


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“I played a lot this year and have gained some confidence from the beginning of the season,” Zekic told Tennis TourTalk. The 32-year-old has captured 24 titles on the Pro Circuit, two of them in Antalya, Turkey in February and March.

I had two surgeries on my knee (in 2019 and 2020) and I am getting back. The coronavirus crisis did not make it easier. There is also the bad structure on the tour, which makes it difficult to reach the Challenger level coming from the ITF Circuit. The qualifying draws for the bigger tournaments are smaller and you do not have the opportunity to play these kind of tournaments. The quality of players being ranked around No. 400 is not bad. There are many examples of qualifiers or lucky losers winning tournaments. These rules are only good for players from countries with big tournaments, as they will have the chance to get a wild card. For others it is really difficult. It will not be really important for me anymore but I hope, in particular for the younger players, that this will change in the nearer future.”

Zekic won his biggest title in 2016 by lifting the trophy of the ATP Challenger Tour tournament in Todi, Italy. Asked about his goals, the Belgrade native responded: “I would like to get back to Challenger and ATP qualifying level. I had some good results in my career and showed that I can play some good tennis but I wasn’t consistent enough. Now, I feel that I have one more shot.”

Gautier loves the city

Zekic will next take on Alexis Gautier. The sixth seed from France eased past German qualifier Oscar Moraing, who appeared in his first quarterfinal on the Pro Circuit, 6-0, 6-0 in one hour and 11 minutes.


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“It was not an easy match. I am just happy with this win,” said Gautier, who is based at the All In Tennis Academy in Paris of Thierry Ascione and arrived in Skopje following a run to the semi-finals of the ITF World Tennis Tour M15 tournament in Bucharest, Romania last week. The 24-year-old was positively surprised by the atmosphere in North Macedonia’s capital city.

“It is so beautiful. I didn’t even know the place, the country, but when I arrived I was immediately amazed. It was the first thing I told my family on the phone about this tournament. It feels like being on vacation here.”

Svrcina keeps winning

In other action, a match full of emotions took place on Court 8 when Czech teenager Dalibor Svrcina continued his fine run of form with a 7-6(5), 7-5 win over seventh favourite Alexander Lazarov from Bulgaria, who enjoyed big support from his entourage in the stands.

Coming fresh from his maiden title win on the ITF World Tennis Tour on home soil in Most last week, the 18-year-old Ostrava native capitalized on six of his 14 break-point chances to prevail after two hours and 10 minutes.


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It was a tricky match but I wasn’t mentally there today, as this is my fourth tournament in row,” said Svrcina, champion of the 2018 Australian Open Boys’ doubles title alongside Jonas Forojtek. “Winning last week was unreal. I played my best and peaked there. Physically I am fine but now it is all about mental strengths.”

Up next for Svrcina will be Ryan Nijboer from the Netherlands, who edged past Italian Alexander Weis 7-6(2), 7-6(4). The encounter lasted two hours and 36 minutes.

Skopje 2014

In the course of the Skopje 2014 project, which was a project financed by the Macedonian government of the then-ruling nationalist party VMRO-DPMNE, with the official purpose of giving the city a more classical appeal has certainly made Skopje one of Europe’s more unorthodox capitals to visit.

Skopje was hit by an earthquake in 1963, which destroyed approximately 80 per cent of the city. Today you can find around 20 buildings, colleges, museums and over 40 monuments, which were constructed as part of the project.