On Wednesday, Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic rallied to win his round-of-16 match at the current Srpska Open and move on to the quarterfinals of the men’s singles competition at the ATP 250 event.
In their round-of-16 match, the world No. 1 overcame the French adolescent Luca Van Assche 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-2. Djokovic came back from an early deficit in the third set to win the two hours and 38 minutes-long contest. “That was challenging. Really, I think I’ve ever played on a court with slower conditions than this. I was unable to enter the court. No ball could I throw past him,” Djokovic stated.
Djokovic displayed a deeper level of play and tested his rival’s court coverage, forcing him to defend. On his return, the 35-year-old was combative and had a sizable crowd cheering him on. His season record now reads 17 wins and 2 losses.
The seasoned Serbian player made some early forehand errors and lost the opening set. At 5-4, Van Assche served, and the Serbian looked for additional opportunities to control the match from the baseline and secure a break. Nonetheless, his rival maintained composure and won the tiebreak in the opening set.
Djokovic soon took his game to the next level, but he faced a minor hindrance after getting broken in the opening game of the decider. But Djokovic answered with a break of his own and sealed a win.
Djokovic is aiming for his third title of the season after winning the Australian Open and the Adelaide Open. Djokovic will lock horns with either compatriot Dusan Lajovic or Frenchman Gregoire Barrere in the quarterfinal.
The 93-time tour-level title winner, Djokovic, will reach 1,050 tour-level wins this week if he reaches the final, something only four men in the Open Era have done, namely: Jimmy Connors (1,274), Roger Federer (1,251), Rafael Nadal (1,068), and Ivan Lendl (1,068).
The youngest player in the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings is Van Assche, who is 18 years old. In just his ninth match at tour-level, the teenager demonstrated consistency from the baseline and a rapid pace.
The player from Brussels advanced quickly on the ATP Challenger Tour, winning three titles before moving up to the ATP Tour. Since 2016, only Van Assche, Carlos Alcaraz, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Jannik Sinner, and Holger Rune have won at least three Challenger championships before turning 19 years old.