Novak Djokovic was bagelled by Andrey Rublev in the Belgrade final on Sunday.
The World No. 1 dropped the opening set for the fourth time in as many matches in the Serbian capital as the in-form Rublev drew first blood. The 24-year-old then saved five set points in the second set but couldn’t prevent Djokovic restoring parity by taking the tiebreak.
However, Rublev soon regrouped, romping past the finish line in a flourish as Djokovic ran out of steam, failing to win a game in the decider. It marked the sixth time the Serb failed to win a set in a claycourt match and the first since his 2020 Roland Garros final against Rafael Nadal.
Here is a list of the times Djokovic has been bagelled over the course of his career (via @vanshv2k on Twitter):
After winning a tour-best third title of the year (also Nadal), Rublev spoke glowingly about Djokovic and the fans in the stadium during the trophy presentation:
“It is big to play against you and share the court for the second time. I hope we have more battles. I feel so great here, it is a very nice city. It feels really special. I want to say a big thanks to all the spectators for supporting all the players all week. To see full crowds again is special for all of us.”
Novak Djokovic’s Serbia Open campaign ends in disappointment
Novak Djokovic struggled for rhythm in Belgrade.
With only four matches played all year coming into Belgrade, Novak Djokovic expectedly struggled to get going in the Serbian capital.
In his tournament opener against Laslo Djere, the World No. 1 came within two points of defeat in the second set tiebreak. Djere was again in the ascendancy in the decider, but untimely forehand errors allowed his illustrious opponent to get out of jail.
It was much of the same story for Djokovic against another compatriot, Miomir Kecmanovic, in the 2022 Serbia Open quarterfinals. Eventually, the 34-year-old pulled through in three sets to book his place in the last four.
Djokovic played arguably his best match of the week against Karen Khachanov in the semis. After dropping the first set, the Serb conceded only three games in the remainder of the match to storm into the final.
However, he met his match against Rublev in the title match.
Although he forced a third set after dropping the opener for the fourth straight match, Rublev’s superior rhythm and match fitness came to the fore. Djokovic has now dropped to a 37-6 win-loss record in Belgrade.