A day after battling back from a set and a break down to win his opening match at the Serbia Open, Novak Djokovic did it again in the quarterfinals, clawing back to beat Miomir Kecmanovic, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, to reach the semifinals in Belgrade.

Kecmanovic has been one of the hottest players on the tour in the last few months—he was playing in his fifth consecutive quarterfinal in Belgrade, having also reached the final eight at his last four events in Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, Indian Wells and Miami, and he had won 14 of his last 18 matches coming into his clash with Djokovic.

And early on, it looked like Kecmanovic was going to make that 15 of his last 19—he broke Djokovic for a 2-1 lead and hung onto that break until he had the first set in his pocket, and he eventually found himself up a set and a break leading 6-4, 2-1.

But Djokovic broke right back for 2-all and was never really behind again, taking the second set and—after six straight holds—breaking at love for a 4-3 lead in the decider. He broke one last time in the last game of the match, finishing it off after two hours and 16 minutes on court with a huge down-the-line backhand winner.

Awaiting Djokovic in the semifinals will be Russia's Karen Khachanov, who defeated Brazil's Thiago Monteiro in the last match of the day, 7-5, 6-4.

“I’m very pleased I’m not going to play a Serbian player next—it’s going to be very nice for a change, because it’s a very strange feeling sharing the court with your compatriot,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview after beating Kecmanovic.

“Obviously the crowd was phenomenal for both players today, and also for yesterday’s match. There are very rare occasions where you can play at home with this atmosphere, so I’m just trying to enjoy it.”

Djokovic is now through to his first semifinal of the year.

Djokovic is now through to his first semifinal of the year.


Djokovic has a 5-1 head-to-head record against Khachanov, losing their second meeting in the final of the Masters 1000 event in Paris in 2018, but winning their last four meetings since then in straight sets. Their only clay-court meeting came in the fourth round of Roland Garros in 2020, with the Serb prevailing, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

Djokovic’s victory over Kecmanovic was his 130th career win from a set down. He’s just the fifth man in the Open Era to do that 130 times, after Roger Federer (140), Jimmy Connors (133), Ilie Nastase (130) and David Ferrer (130).

In terms of winning percentage for that stat, he’s second-best in the Open Era—he’s now 130-164 in his career from a set down, an incredible .442 winning percentage from that situation. Only Rod Laver has a better one—he was 92-92, or .500.