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At Banja Luka, Dusan Lajovic outplays Novak Djokovic for first win over a world No. 1; Alcaraz through in Barcelona
The 22-time major champion went just 1 for 16 on his break point chances in defeat Friday.
Published Apr 21, 2023
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic and No. 2-ranked Carlos Alcaraz each took on respective countrymen on Friday at a pair of events. Only one managed to pass the challenge.
A plethora of missed opportunities and an opponent who came out firing resulted in Djokovic suffering his second straight early exit on clay at the Srpska Open following last week's third-round loss in Monte Carlo.
Dusan Lajovic pulled off the upset in Banja Luka, 6-4, 7-6 (6), to secure his third career Top 5 victory and first since 2021 Rotterdam.
"I'm overwhelmed. It is the biggest win of my career," Lajovic said on court after defeating a world No. 1 for the first time. “Beating him is something that I didn’t even think was gonna be possible.”
The difference maker today? Lajovic saved 15 of the 16 break points he faced with his variety of looks against one of the sport’s best returners of all time. The serve and volley in particular was an effective ploy when Lajovic used it.
Djokovic did well to extend the clash for a period when he overcame a 15-40 deficit at 4-4 in the second set. Before serving at 5-6, Lajovic had his right big toe taped for an apparent blister. He had no trouble reaching the tie-break, showing his wheels were just fine after responding to Djokovic’s drop shot with a re-drop winner.
The top seed stepped up with stronger hitting to secure an early mini break and held firm to arrive at three set points. From 3-6, Lajovic dug in to hold both serves, before Djokovic overhit a forehand to miss the third chance on his racquet. A botched overhead then handed Lajovic his first match point, one he would take with a finishing forehand out of Djokovic's reach.
“I think he had some issues with the first serve probably, with the elbow during the match,” assessed Lajovic. “His percentage of the first serve was not the greatest. I was able to use that to my advantage. Overall, I think it was very good tennis from my side.”
Lajovic awaits the winner of compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic and Czech Jiri Lehecka.
Alcaraz fended off Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, 7-6 (5), 6-4, to take the first-time encounter in Barcelona.
The defending champion recovered from not serving out the first set in the tie-break, where an early mini break deficit was immediately erased. Alcaraz ultimately broke to end the contest, making it five semifinals in five tournaments contested this season.