Getty Images/Srjan Stefanovic/Pictured: Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic will not win the ATP 250 clay court tournament in Banja Luka. On Friday, the ATP leader lost in two sets to compatriot Dusan Lajovic.
On Wednesday, Novak Djokovic had trouble defeating France’s Luka van Ash at the inaugural 2023 Srpska Open. Dusan Lajović blocked his way in the quarter-finals on Friday. In the two previous meetings between the two men, the lower-ranked Serb had won four matches. In Banja Luka, he took advantage of the weaker disposition of “Nul” and finally won 6: 4, 7: 6 (6).
Djokovic has been complaining about elbow issues lately and he’s clearly been struggling on court. However, he did not want to hurt his fans and took up the gauntlet. In the first set, he came back from the score 2-4, but in the ninth match Lajović made a decisive break. After changing sides, there was another long match, but the 70th tennis player in the world finally closed the set.
There were also great feelings in the second part. Both Serbs got their chance at it, but they also felt some discomfort. Despite medical breaks, none of them managed to get a break. In view of the above, the tie-break was decided, as Djokovic was already leading 6-3. However, he did not use any of the three balls. Lajović scored five straight points to win the match 6-4, 7-6(6).
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“I’m overwhelmed, it’s the biggest win of my career. The feelings are very mixed because I played here before my hometown and I also played against ‘Nol’, who is a good friend of mine and a hero for our country. His beating was reported by the ATP,” Lajović said in a post-match conversation on the court. Something I didn’t think was possible, but it happened.”
The 32-year-old from Belgrade has reached the semi-finals of the Srpska Open. Although the event takes place in Banja Luka, there are a lot of Serbs in the stands, as they are the majority in this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On Saturday, Lajovic’s path will be blocked by his compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic or Czech Jiri Lehica.
Andrei Rublev continues his winning streak. The Russian arrived in Banja Luka as the winner of the ATP Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo and wants to repeat the success he achieved this time last year in Belgrade (the tournament in Belgrade has been moved to Banja Luka this season). On Friday, the Muscovites took another step towards it, defeating the best Bosnian, Damir Dzhur, 7: 5, 6: 3.
Rublev plays Alex Mulkan on Saturday for a place in the final on Sunday. The Slovakian, after a three-set fight, turned out to be better than the Serbian Laslo Djiri. The Senta tennis player may regret his big chance, because he passed in the third set to win. But the representative of our southern neighbors made up for the loss of the break and finally won 6: 2, 4: 6, 7: 5. Rublev and Molkan will face each other on Saturday for the first time on professional courts.
Serbian Open ChampionshipBanja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
ATP 250, clay, prize pool 562.8k. euro
Friday 21st April
Dusan Lajovic (Serbia) – Novak Djokovic (Serbia, 1) 6-4, 7-6 (6).
Miomir Kekmanovic (Serbia, 4) – Jiri Lehica (Czech Republic, 6) * plays
Alex Molkan (Slovakia) beat Laslo Djerje (SERbia) 6-2 4-6 7-5
Andrei Rublev (2) by Damir Dzumhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina) 7-5, 6-3
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