Djokovic Targets Serbian Hat-trick In Belgrade
After starting the 2021 season with a record-extending ninth Australian Open title and breaking the all-time record of weeks at World No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, Djokovic has honed in on the clay-court swing as his next target.
In Belgrade, he will be contesting his fourth tournament on the terre-battue, and so far each tournament has gone better than the previous one: Djokovic bounced back from a third-round exit in Monte-Carlo to Daniel Evans with a run to the Serbia Open semi-finals (l. Karatsev), before reaching his first ATP Masters 1000 final of the year at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia (l. Nadal).
Into the second round with a bye, Djokovic will start against either Egor Gerasimov or a qualifier as he seeks a Serbian hat-trick, having won two titles in Belgrade during the tournament’s previous four-year run (2009, 2011).
Djokovic could face countryman Miomir Kecmanovic, the seventh seed, in the quarter-finals. The match would be a repeat of their previous quarter-final in Belgrade, contested during last month’s Serbia Open held at the same venue, the Novak Tennis Centre.
Experienced clay court players including Pablo Andujar, who defeated Roger Federer in Geneva, and Pablo Cuevas are also in this section. Third seed Nikoloz Basilashvili and fifth seed Dusan Lajovic also feature in Djokovic’s half.
World No. 14 Gael Monfils is the second seed, and he arrives at the Serbian capital looking to capture his 11th tour-level title – and his first match win of the 2021 season (0-3). He’ll face either countryman Arthur Rinderknech or a qualifier in his opening match. Rinderknech, who also received a Roland Garros wild card, recently turned heads in Lyon after toppling #NextGenATP Jannik Sinner for his first Top 20 win.
Monfils could book another all-French clash in the semi-finals, with fourth seed Adrian Mannarino also landing in his half. Mannarino awaits the winner of Lucas Pouille and Fernando Verdasco in the second round, and could meet sixth seed Filip Krajinovic in the quarter-finals.