'This is nuts': Novak Djokovic at centre of 'crazy' tennis drama

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·Sports Editor
·5-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Novak Djokovic, pictured here in action against Laslo Djere at the Serbia Open.
Novak Djokovic survived a huge scare from Laslo Djere to prevail at the Serbia Open. Image: Tennis TV/Getty

Tennis fans and pundits were left stunned on Wednesday as Novak Djokovic battled from a set and break down to prevail in his first match at the Serbia Open.

The World No.1 trailed 4-3 in the second set but won a dramatic encounter against fellow Serb Laslo Djere, rallying back to prevail 2-6, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (4) in three hours and 21 minutes.

'SHOULD BE ASHAMED': Tennis world slams Wimbledon 'disgrace'

'CRAZY': Novak Djokovic lashes out over shock Wimbledon move

Djokovic was in danger of losing three-straight ATP Tour matches for the first time in over four years when he surrendered the opening set in front of an adoring crowd in Belgrade.

The 20-time grand slam champion was two points away from defeat in the second-set tie-break, but managed to force a decider by converting set point at the sixth attempt.

Djokovic needed another tie-break to get the job done in the third, with Djere paying the price for a series of errors as he missed out on a chance to claim a famous victory.

"Djere was the better player today, he controlled the game, attacked, I didn't feel good about my game, I served badly," Djokovic told reporters afterwards.

"But it's a positive difference compared to Monte Carlo where I was not able to hold on physically in the third set."

Djokovic is playing just his third tournament of the year due to his vaccination refusal, which saw him deported from Australia before the Australian Open.

He then missed Masters 1000 events at Indian Wells and Miami, before a shock first-up loss to eventual runner-up Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Monte Carlo.

Novak Djokovic, pictured here celebrating victory over Laslo Djere at the Serbia Open.
Novak Djokovic celebrates victory over Laslo Djere at the Serbia Open. (Photo by Nikola Krstic/MB Media/Getty Images)

“I liked the way I managed to physically hold on and push through and survive a thriller of almost three-and-a-half hours,” Djokovic said on Wednesday.

“That’s the positive difference compared to Monte Carlo, where I just wasn’t able to physically sustain the third set.

"Today, that was different. If there are positives, I think that’s the one.

“Playing an official match in front of your crowd… you feel the great support, which I had, and I’m very grateful for that. But at the same time, it’s not simple.

“Even after so many years of experience and playing many times in front of the home crowd, you still feel nervous.”

Fans were left stunned by Djokovic's crazy comeback against Djere.

De Minaur prevails but John Millman goes down

Elsewhere, Alex de Minaur demonstrated his heart for clay court battle with a rain-interrupted triumph over dangerous French cavalier Ugo Humbert at the Barcelona Open.

But John Millman's own famed heart wasn't enough to earn him a match-up with Djokovic as he bowed out of the Serbia Open earlier on Wednesday.

With the clay court season getting into full swing, Australian No.1 de Minaur demonstrated encouraging signs for his 2022 campaign on clay at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona.

The Sydneysider, ranked No.25 in the world, survived a blistering fightback from his fellow 23-year-old hot shot Humbert to prevail 6-3 4-6 6-3.

Millman was thrown into the deep end again against local Serbian favourite Miomir Kecmanovic, ranked 42 places higher on the ATP computer.

After a 28-shot rally on the first point showed what sort of endurance battle Millman could expect, his 22-year-old opponent eked out the only break in the opening set, showing real patience in defence.

Kecmanovic held firm to take the second set in a tiebreak as he ended up winning 6-4 7-6 (7-5) after two and a quarter hours.

with agencies

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting