© Paul Crock/ATP Tour

Novak Djokovic (left) could meet Aslan Karatsev for the second time this season at the 2021 Serbia Open.

Draw Preview: Djokovic, Karatsev On Belgrade Collision Course

World No. 1 seeking third tour-level title on home soil

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will play on home soil for the first time in a decade when he hits the court at his eponymous tennis centre to begin his 2021 Serbia Open campaign.

Djokovic leads the pack as seven other Serbians contest the main draw in Belgrade. Most of them, including fourth seed Dusan Lajovic and fifth seed Filip Krajinovic, landed on the opposite side of the draw. But Djokovic could get a first-time meeting with eighth-seeded countryman Miomir Kecmanovic in the quarter-finals.

View Belgrade Singles Draw

The top seed will start against Soonwoo Kwon or a qualifier at the Novak Tennis Centre as he seeks his third title at the ATP 250 event in Belgrade, and his 83th career trophy. Djokovic lifted two trophies during the tournament’s previous four-year run, triumphing in 2009 and 2011. 

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Also in Djokovic’s half of the draw is third seed Aslan Karatsev, and the pair could meet for the second time this season should they reach the semi-finals. Karatsev was the breakthrough story at the start of the year after his dream run from qualifying to his first Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open. Djokovic sent him crashing back to earth in the last four, cruising to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory on his way to his record-extending ninth Melbourne crown.

But Karatsev will have to get through a tricky opening match first. He awaits the winner between Aljaz Bedene and #NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda, who reached the quarter-finals in Miami and final in Delray Beach before the clay season.

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Italian Matteo Berrettini anchors the bottom half of the Belgrade draw as the second seed. He will start against either Serbian wild card Viktor Troicki, a former World No. 12, or countryman Marco Cecchinato. Berrettini is contesting his second tournament back from a rib injury, which caused him to withdraw from the Australian Open at the start of the season.