24th April, 2022
Russian Andrey Rublev overcame World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and a lively Serbian crowd as he won his maiden Serbia Open title in style.
In the final set, he even ran away with a 6-0 victory.
It was a hard-fought clash, no doubt, but the second seed dug deep against Djokovic as he hit with relentless power and intensity to outlast the home favourite 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-0 at the ATP 250 clay-court event.
The 24-year-old saved five set points in the second set to force a tie-break and while he was unable to prevent Djokovic from levelling the match, Rublev regrouped in the decider as he looked the fitter of the two to triumph after two hours and 29 minutes.
Rublev has now equalled Spaniard Rafael Nadal for the most tour-level titles in 2022, having also clinched crowns in Marseille and Dubai in February.
With his maiden victory over a World No. 1, the World No. 8 has levelled his ATP Head2Head series against Serbian Djokovic at 1-1, gaining revenge for his defeat at the Nitto ATP Finals last season.
Djokovic was competing in his third event of the season as he aimed to clinch his maiden title of the year against Rublev.
The 34-year-old, who lost in the quarter-finals in Dubai and suffered a shock second-round defeat against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Monte Carlo, battled past Laslo Djere, Miomir Kecmanovic and Karen Khachanov in three sets as he worked his way back into form.
Djokovic now holds a 37-6 record in Serbia, having lifted the trophy at the Serbia Open in 2009 and 2011 and at the Belgrade Open last season.