N. Djokovic b.  M. Kecmanovic 4-6 6-3 6-3
On the central court of the Tennis Center that bears his name, Novak Djokovic (No. 1 ATP) takes a comeback Miomir Kecmanovic (no. 38) in the quarter-finals of Serbia Open 2022. As happened in the second round match against another compatriot, in that case Laslo Djere, the host of the tournament (also organized by his family) started the game facing various difficulties and found himself under a set and a break in the second set. But, as the minutes passed, n. 1 of the world has regained the physical and mental energies finally managing to reassemble Kecmanovic to land in the semifinal in Belgrade for the fourth time out of five participations.
THE MATCH – In his second round of service Djokovic commits two double fouls, plays a forgettable damping on the break ball and immediately passes the serve to Kecmanovic. The N. 1 of the world finds itself in difficulty again in the fifth game, having to face five break points (including three consecutive) and, between a mistake by his compatriot and a bailout with his serve, he somehow manages to avoid the double disadvantage.
From that moment Djokovic increases the level of his game, puts his opponent in greater difficulty but Kecmanovic is good at containing the return of the most famous compatriot playing aggressive and very effective tennis on net runs. The N. 38 of ranking thus closes the first set 6-4 after 49 minutes thanks to two of the three aces thrown in the first set.
Also at the beginning of the second set Kecmanovic starts strong and gets a break point at the opening. Djokovic also cancels this one and in the next round of response he gets two in turn, the first thrown to the wind with a too deep right and the second canceled by the 1999 class with a right to applause at the intersection of the lines. The exchanges from the baseline are getting tougher but the n. 38 in the standings is very good at keeping up with Djokovic’s pace and, indeed, to attack him. Kecmanovic thus manages to snatch the serve in the third game a Nole, which however recovers it immediately thanks to a reverse that pinches the bottom line and frees the n. 1 in a thanksgiving to heaven complete with the sign of the cross.
Djokovic is now definitively on the ball, the audience pushes more and more for his darling who operates the break again and goes to serve for the set at 5-3. With the second ace of the game the leader of the world rankings sends the match to the third and decisive set to complete his comeback, after finding himself under a set and a break.
At the beginning of the third and decisive set, the match lives in a great state of balance, neither player suffers in the service rounds and we proceed on-serve. That is until the seventh game, when Djokovic plays a game of n. 1 in the world with high intensity exchanges, iron defense when necessary and a great long line right at full arm to snatch Kecmanovic’s serve.
“When the going gets tough, the tough get to play”Said John Belushi in the movie“ Animal house ”, and never a sentence was more suitable to describe Djokovic’s growth point by point during the match. The overwhelming return to the game of the twenty-time Grand Slam champion shatters the remaining hopes of the young compatriotwho gives up again in the ninth game by surrendering to Djokovic’s last two passers-by. Nole thus completes his comeback and closes the match in two hours and 18 minutes, and will face Karen Khachanov in the semifinal who eliminated the Brazilian Monteiro in two sets. Djokovic won 5 of the previous 6 even if the resounding victory of the Russian in the final in Paris-Bercy remained famous back in 2018. They met in Dubai a couple of months ago with a success of Djokovic 6-3 7-6 (2).
 A. Rublev b. [Q] J. Lehecka 4-6 7-6 (1) 6-2
The second seed of the tournament, Andrey, reaches the quarter-finals of the Serbia Open Rublev, who overtakes the promising Czech Lehecka in three sets. He will challenge Marcos Daniel tomorrow.
THE MATCH – After a start to the prerogative of the players at bat, the fourth game drags on and Lehecka is good at canceling a break point bringing the score in a draw at 2-2. Rublev for his part begins to hammer from the bottom, forcing the young Czech to play at a pace that does not belong to him. The Russian takes a tie before the change of side. The seventh game, however, immediately turns bad for the n. 8 of the world that goes under 0-40 due to three free mistakes; the imprecision in the maneuver condemns him: 4-3 for the Czech. In the next round we go to the advantages, but Lehecka is ready and consolidates the break. The tenth game is decisive for the first fraction, with the twenty-year-old Czech who takes advantage of the only break conquered and closes the partial 6-4 in 36 minutes.
At the opening of the second set, the Russian still appears dazed: he spoils the good things he builds by committing free mistakes (on all two double fouls and a smash at the net), he immediately offers a break point but somehow manages to keep the serve. The partial proceeds on-serve, with Rublev who defends himself in his own turns of service from the attacks of the young Czech also thanks to 95% of points obtained with the first ball. The N. 93 of the world on the other hand, despite the gap in experience and positions in the standings (or perhaps in light of this), proves to deserve the advantage of the first set.
In fact, Lehecka shows off a more diversified tennis than the opponent, plays well both at the net and the shots in variation, such as the short balls that he relies on to get out of the rhythm from the baseline that tries to impose Rublev. In moments when he seems to waver, the 20-year-old from Mlada Boleslav calls his serve to help, as in the twelfth game in which the Russian pushes up to two points from the set and then sees the fraction slip to the tie-break. The N. 8 of ranking very strong part in the decisive game going quickly 5-1. Lehecka misses three measuring strokes e Rublev can easily close the tie-break, taking advantage of a quarter unforced of the opponent to bring the match to the third and decisive set.
The waste of the tie-break is felt for the Czech class of 2001, who commits two other unforced errors and gives up the bar in the opening of the third set. The Russian runs the risk of wasting the advantage immediately by committing a double foul that leads Lehecka to a break point, who however spoils it with a backhand that is too wide. The lost chance to get back into the game demoralizes No. 93 of the ranking, who from that moment misses some shots that he had performed in a remarkable way for a set and a half and ends up giving another break to Rublev in the fifth game. The Russian player at this point can play with his arm and head looser, he wastes a first match point in response at 5-1 but manages to close the game on the next serve in 2 hours and seven minutes. In the quarter-finals the seeded n. 2 will address Taro Daniel (# 104), who in his match beat the eighteen year old Danish Holger Rune (# 72) with a score of 6-3 6-7 (1) 6-3.