DOHA—Miomir Kecmanovic became the first player to reach the semifinals at the Qatar Open, with seconds to spare before a heavy downpour began. In just 55 minutes, the 20-year-old Serbian dispatched Marton Fucsovics, 6-2, 6-0.

Kecmanovic is now two wins away from emulating his idol and friend, two-time Doha champion Novak Djokovic.

What's the secret to Serbia's success?

“I guess the water, I have no idea,” Kecmanovic said. He was born in Belgrade and trains out of the Serbian capital as well as Bradenton, Fla.

“I think we just have that different mentality because we come from a small country [with] not very good conditions for practice and everything," he added. "I think that kind of makes us mentally stronger I guess and kind of helps us to maybe want it more. Just to be hungry all the time."


Kecmanovic credits
Dubai off-season for
Doha success

Kecmanovic credits Dubai off-season for Doha success

Samer Al-Rejjal

The world No. 62 is one of five Serbians inside of the ATP Top 70, behind No. 2 Djokovic, No. 34 Dusan Lajovic, No. 39 Djere and No. 40 Krajinovic. Instead of being frustrated over missing out on the ATP Cup, Kecmanovic is motivated.

"The guys in front of me are better, so I can't really say anything about it," he said. "It just means I have to do better next year I guess."

Thanks to an off-season in nearby Dubai, Kecmanovic is very accustomed to the conditions in the Middle East.

"Definitely it wasn't a big trip," Kecmanovic said. "I was in Dubai for a month, so definitely starting to feel at home here."

It also helps that the former junior No. 1 was training with the likes of Roger Federer, Karen Khachanov and Novak Djokovic.

“We're good friends,” Kecmanovic said of Djokovic. “He's definitely a big inspiration back home for everybody. So it's really cool to have somebody like him that you can call your friend and that you're able to talk to him and that he can tell you his advice and his experiences.”

Friday will mark Kecmanovic's second career ATP semifinal after reaching the Antalya final last year (he also appeared in the Next Gen ATP Finals semifinals).