Ten years after the last time, Novak Djokovic returns to win the ATP Belgrade tournament. The Serbian event did not take place from 2013 to 2020, but this year, thanks to the strong push of the 18-time Grand Slam champion and his family, the fans were able to admire their favorite live twice in the last month and a half.
On the first occasion, Djokovic had to yield to an amazing Aslan Karatsev in the semifinals; in the second, however, he did not miss the opportunity to lift the home trophy for the third time and won the 83rd title of his extraordinary career by beating Alex Molcan in the final.
In the first set, Djokovic got off to a bad start and immediately lost his serve also thanks to an excellent forehand by Molcan. The counter break, however, came immediately, and this pattern will be repeated three times during the partial.
In the fifth game it was again the Slovak who took the lead by a break, after Djokovic's questionable serve and volley, and badly lost the serve in the next game. Djokovic seemed to have found his shots in the middle of the match, but then played one of his worst games when he served for the set and put his opponent back in the running.
Molcan, however, wasted the 5-5 ball and allowed Djokovic to raise his head with a very deep backhand and a well executed smash. In the second half of the game, both have acquired more solidity and showed an excellent performance on the serve; serve that they held without too many worries until 3-2, when Djokovic took advantage of a backhand that ended up over the bottom line of Molcan.
However, for the second time in the match, the Belgrade lost ground at the most important moment and his rival worked the immediate counter-break by hitting a full-arm long line backhand. After suffering the fourth break of the day, Djokovic finally decided to play Djokovic and played the last phase of the match with great attention.
He first broke his opponent's serve by exploiting Molcan's gross error at the net and then left the crumbs to the Slovak serving.
Roland Garros 2021 men's draw: Federer, Nadal and Djokovic on the same side!
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on the same side of the Roland Garros 2021 main draw.
The first verdict from Paris has an important specific weight. The world number one, called to a rather soft debut with Tennys Sandgren and a second round with one between Lucas Pouille and Pablo Cuevas, could find Ugo Humbert in the third round and presumably one between David Goffin and Alex de Minaur in the round of 16.
In short: assuming a quarter-final with Roger Federer appears premature, if only in conditions of absolute normality, but definitely suggestive. The Swiss champion, who will have to wait for the conclusion of the qualifiers to know his first opponent, could have Marin Cilic in the second round, Taylor Fritz in the worst case scenario in the third and presumably Matteo Berrettini in the round of 16.
On the way to the Italian e number one, a qualified player, Federico Coria and probably Felix Auger Aliassime. Called among other things to test Andreas Seppi in the first round. The thirteen-time champion of the tournament Rafael Nadal, favored for duty, then falls in the second segment of the draw.
After Alexei Popyrin, one between Hugo Gaston and Richard Gasquet in the second round and probably Lorenzo Sonego, for the Spaniard there could be Jannik Sinner again. The player who put him most in difficulty last season on the red brick of Bois de Boulogne.
After Sinner, Nadal could have Andrey Rublev and Djokovic. The 2021 edition of Roland Garros could be decided before the third Sunday. Alexander Zverev's main obstacle on the way to the quarter-finals responds to the name of Roberto Bautista Agut.
Hypothetical, of course, with Dominic Thiem. Finalist in 2018 and 2019, yes, but with a balance of three wins and three defeats on red this season. Fabio Fognini also orbits on the same side of the board, called to the Gregoire Barrere test in the first round and possibly to the challenge with one between Marton Fucsovics and Gilles Simon in the second.
Number two in seeding is Daniil Medvedev, still without success in Paris. The first round challenge with the crazy horse Alexandr Bublik for the Russian is fascinating and far from obvious. Obligatory favorite in the last segment of the board Stefanos Tsitsipas: the match with Jeremy Chardy at the debut is soft in a completely theoretical line.