As expected, Novak Djokovic won the inaugural Serbia Open in a straight sets victory over Lucasz Kubot. It wasn’t as easy as I thought, as Novak had a flair for the dramatic, going down 2-5 in the second set, only to come back to win, 7-6 (7-0) in a tiebreaker. Djokovic won the first set, 6-3.
Kubot did not have history on his side. He was a Lucky Loser from Poland and ranked #179 in the world. Kubot did win the doubles tourney however, his second career ATP title. This was Novak’s 13th ATP tour title.
It was a celebration for Serbia. The hero brought the ATP tour to this tennis mad country. It was a beautiful day, with the Kalmegdan Fortress on one side of the stadium, and the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers on the the other. The President, Prime Minister, and Serbian military representatives were all there as well as a packed, enthusaistic stadium.
Owen, Nadia and I really enjoyed the game. We got to see Tito’s Blue Train (a future post) and some world class tennis.
Nadia, Owen and I are excited for our first ATP Finals tomorrow. We will be attending the Novak Djokovic, err, excuse me, Serbia Open. I joke that it should be called the Novak Open as he bought the rights to the Dutch Open tourney and moved it to his hometown of Belgrade. Thankfully, he didn’t disappoint his family and the home crowd and made it to the finals. Unfortunately, all the Serb players ended up in the same side of the draw and Djokovic cruised through defeating two Serbs, including the second highest ranked Serb, Victor Trocki (#40 in the world). It was almost like a Davis Cup practice. Tonight he got by the Italian, Andreas Seppi, but lost one set.
He will be taking on a “Lucky Loser” named Lukasz Kubot, from Poland. He is the first Polish player in an ATP final in 27 years. The term lucky loser means that Kubot lost in the qualifying rounds to get into the tourney, but due to an injury, was the alternate and got to enter the main singles draw. Only 5 lucky losers have won ATP events in the last 30 years. Lukasz is a decent doubles player, with one ATP doubles title, and he is currently ranked #22 in doubles, but #179 on the singles tour. After catching a lucky break to get into the tourney, he got another one when #25 ranked Russian Igor Andreev, withdrew in the first set of their second round match. This afternoon he defeated world #24, Ivo Karlovic, the 6 foot 10 inch big server from Croatia. For Kubot, with a career singles record of 15-16, this was the biggest win of his career. The 26 year old will have the biggest match of his career tomorrow.
Does Kubot have a chance tomorrow? His only hope is that Djokovic played late tonight and played three sets, and he might be tired tomorrow afternoon. Will Novak be over confident? Kubot has to be happy already with getting this far and the guaranteed 40,000 Euros. Will his luck continue?
I predict a straight sets victory for Djokovic, and if Kubot wins 6 games in the two sets, he should still consider himself lucky.
With our finals tickets, we also have access to the doubles final. I see that tonight, Kubot won again and he will be playing in the doubles final as well with partner Oliver Marach.
As you can tell by the title of this post, I am very excited for the first ever Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tour event being held in Serbia! The Serbia Open will begin tomorrow, Saturday May 2 with the qualifying rounds. There will be 32 men competing in the singles and 16 doubles teams competing for the title. This is a new ATP tour event.
It is certainly not Wimbledon or the US Open, as it is classified as a “250 series” which means that it is in the lowest tier of tourneys on the ATP tour. The 250 means the winner will get 250 points. The winner will also win 73, 000 Euros, which is almost $100,000. Not bad for a week’s work. Second place earns half of that. Even though it is not a high profile tour event, I am still looking forward to it because it is here. Nadia and I purchased tickets for the finals and are arranging for a babysitter.
It might as well be called the Novak Djokovic Open as he was the driving force behind getting the tourney here in Belgrade. He is also by far, the highest rank player in the tourney. There are two other events the same week, both 250 series, in Munich, Germany and Estoril, Portugal. Novak is currently ranked #3 in the world and the next highest ranked player competing in the open is Radek Stepanek who is ranked #19. Djokovic is 3- 1 against Stepanek in his career .
“Nole” as they call Djokovic here in Serbia is defending his title this week at the Masters Series tourney in Rome. He is a better player on hard courts, but has won three ATP titles on clay. This week he is defending his clay court title at the Rome Open, which is a Masters Series event. He is having a good run lately, destroying Tommy Robredo yesterday, 6-1, 6-1 to move to the quarterfinals in Rome. Things are looking up for him to win his Serbia Open. We shall see.
There are two other ranked Serbians in the singles draw, #40 Victor Troicki and #65 Janko Tipsarevic. I will be posting updates all week as the tourney gets underway.