Novak Djokovic is looking forward to this week’s Serbia Open. On Saturday, the World No. 1 came back from a set down for the third time in as many matches to beat Karen Khachanov 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 and reach the final of his hometown tournament for the third time. Djokovic got off to a slow start in the semi-final against Khachanov, just as he had done in the previous rounds against Laslo Djere and Miomir Kecmanovic. Djokovic, the top seed, responded with a bang, producing arguably his best two sets of the week to storm back for a one-hour, 59-minute victory and extend his winning streak in Serbia to 37-5.
“All three matches were key matches for me, to be honest,” said Djokovic in his post-match press conference. “Again I started not that great, losing the first set. I was a break down today as I was in the first two matches of the tournament. I think as soon as the second set started I was just feeling the ball and started swinging through particularly the backhand which wasn’t working in the first set.”
Djokovic will face Andrey Rublev or Fabio Fognini on Sunday in front of his home fans for a chance to win his first title in 2022. The Serb now has a 13-2 match record in Belgrade, and there were clear signs on Saturday that he is rediscovering his best form as he attempts to win the ATP 250 event for the third time.
“I was serving well, dictating the play [in the] second and third sets, the best two sets of the season so far for me and against a really quality tennis player,” said Djokovic. “Khachanov is playing well. So it’s an important win. Of course, any win is important for me at the moment.”
“Playing at home with the unbelievable support from the crowd always gives me goosebumps and the motivation to play my best and fight until the end,” he added.
Despite dropping the first set, the home favourite seemed to have raised his game, and Djokovic’s masterful returning earned him a double break in the second set, which he sealed with an ace. There was little Khachanov could do to stop Djokovic’s onslaught as the 20-time Grand Slam champion started to shine in all areas of his game. The Serb won the match with two more breaks in the deciding set.