© Andrey Udartsev

Filip Krajinovic celebrates his fifth ATP Challenger Tour title of the year on Saturday, defeating Laslo Djere 6-0, 6-3 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Krajinovic Returns To Top 100 With Fifth Title Of 2017

Serbian is up to a career-high in the Emirates ATP Rankings after winning the title in Almaty, Kazakhstan

One word can sum up the reason why everything appears to be clicking for Filip Krajinovic... Belief.

Krajinovic will step back into familiar territory as he re-enters the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time since May 2016, after clinching the title at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Almaty, Kazakhstan on Saturday. The 25 year old is projected to leap past his previous career-high of No. 86 to No. 79.

“I believed that to break back into the Top 100 was possible, but I was not sure if I was going to be able to do that," Krajinovic said. "Now, all of a sudden, I won one tournament from the qualifiers, then I started to play better. I believed and got closer and now here you go.”

The Serbian, who leads the Challenger circuit with five titles this year, returned to the winners' circle once again, overpowering countryman Laslo Djere 6-0, 6-3 on Saturday to go back-to-back on the clay of Rome and Almaty. His ruthless run included a combined 37 games lost, not dropping a set en route to notching the consecutive crowns.

“It has been an unbelievable year for me," Krajinovic said. "Last year I was injured so I really couldn’t play, and the beginning of the year wasn’t good for me, and then this summer I believed in myself that I could do it. Now, I'm going to have five titles and be in the Top 80 in the world. I think I achieved my goal, and it is just the beginning of my career.”

Having endured a series of setbacks in 2016, including wrist and shoulder injuries, the Serbian has flipped the script. He owns an ATP Challenger Tour leading 47 match wins this year. Although Krajinovic’s run has been impressive, he is not the only Serbian making his mark on the tour in the wake of Novak Djokovic’s absence due to injury. Looking to each other for inspiration and that extra push, Janko Tipsarevic has claimed four Challenger titles, and Laslo Djere and Dusan Lajovic have each captured one. Players from the European nation have amassed a tour-leading 11 titles this year.

“Serbia now has six Top 100 guys, which is amazing for that small country,” Krajinovic said. “We are sad that Djokovic is not playing, but we have a lot of players that are coming up which is good for us. We push each other. For example, Djere, I lost close matches to him this year, but he pushed me to play better and to make the goals. We are going to have more players and it is very good for Serbia.”

While the rise of Serbian tennis is worthy of excitement, the 6-foot-1 Krajinovic still has a ways to go to prove that he belongs among the top players, as he continues to climb the Emirates ATP Rankings.

“Next year my goal is to play only tour-level events. I will have a very good preseason. I have already set everything up for that. I will work even harder. I know what I need to improve to play with those guys,” Krajinovic added. “I have had a couple of setbacks in my career. I had two big injuries so I couldn’t really play. I couldn’t use my potential. I think now it’s time. I have learned that I need to take care of the body. Right now I have a great team behind me, and they are helping me a lot. It is not just me, it is all of us together.

“To be honest, I already achieved my goals. It was Top 100...Now I am Top 80. The goal is now Top 70 to finish stronger, but in my mind I am just going to play relaxed. I have a lot of confidence after winning so many matches. I am just going to go to the tournaments and enjoy and see how it goes.”

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