Djokovic To Play Rublev In Serbia Open Final

Novak Djokovic (photo: Starsrport/Serbia Open)

BELGRADE/MUNICH, April 23, 2022

The top two seeds of the Serbia Open will compete in the singles final, as World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will take on Andrey Rublev for the title on Sunday.

In front of about 8,000 spectators on Centre Court, Djokovic fought back from a set down for the third consecutive match on Saturday to secure a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 win over Karen Khachanov from Russia and reach the championship match at his hometown tournament for the third time. Just like in his previous rounds against Laslo Djere and Miomir Kecmanovic, the 34-year-old defending champion overcame a slow start but won 55 per cent of the total points played to advance after almost two hours of play.

“I didn’t get off to a good start. It seems that it has become my routine to lose the first set. I’ve lost the first set in all three matches I played,” Djokovic said. “I’ll have to make some changes before the final in order to start a match better. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind losing the first set and then winning the match. The second and the third set were probably my best tennis this week. I’m glad that it happened before the most important match, the final.”

Later in the day, Rublev defeated sixth-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-2. The World No. 8 from Russia saved all three break points he faced and capitalized on four of his own eight break-point chances to prevail after one hour and two minutes.

“I played with Rublev only once before, in Turin, in last year’s Nitto ATP Finals, but the conditions were different then: height above sea level, a different surface,” Djokovic said of his upcoming task. “We’ve never played on clay before and this will be our first match on a clay-court. When you reach the final, then you try to do your best and give all you have and more. You do your best to win the title. Anyhow, Rublev is a good player, he has held a firm place in Top 10. When he plays, he is looking to find the way to impose his game and knows how to find it, to be in control. His forehand is powerful. We still have to work on the tactic. I know what to do. I’ve talked to Goran about this already. I hope to have a better start than I had in the last three matches and then let the best man win.”

Behar/Escobar crowned doubles champions

In other action, Ariel Behar from Uruguay and Gonzalo Escobar of Ecuador claimed the doubles title. The unseeded pair, who finished runner-up in Belgrade last year, upset the tournament’s top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic of Croatia 6-2, 3-6, 10-7 in one hour and 20 minutes.

With their victory, the pair has now clinched three tour-level trophies together after they captured crowns in Delray Beach and Marbella last season.

“We are happy to have won in the final of the Serbia Open. We’ve really had some tough opponents but we managed to find our way and carve the path to victory at the tournament. We’ve had a pleasant week at the Serbia Open, we’ve enjoyed our time here, and we hope to see you again next year,” Behar and Escobar said afterwards.

They split €28,250  in prize money and collected 250 ATP Doubles Ranking points.