An emotional Novak Djokovic broke down in tears in front of a packed crowd of 4,000 at his own tennis tournament after a 4-0, 1-4, 4-2 win over German Alexander Zverev sent fellow Serb Filip Krajinovic into the final on Sunday.
“I am not crying because I got knocked out of the tournament, I am just overwhelmed by emotion because this reminds me of my childhood,” the 33-year-old told the crowd as he received a standing ovation from his compatriots.
“It’s been an emotional few days and I want to thank everyone who made this possible. The important thing after this match is that we have one of our own in the final. I love you all and thank you so much for turning up.”
The tournament, held at Djokovic’s tennis complex by the Danube River in Serbia’s capital, is the first leg of the charity event called The Adria Tour, with the second leg taking place in Croatia’s coastal resort Zadar next weekend.
The third leg due in Montenegro on June 27-28 was cancelled on Saturday over coronavirus concerns while the final leg is to be staged in Bosnia’s city Banja Luka on July 3 and 4.
With sets slashed to best-of-seven games, the players are divided into two pools on a round-robin basis and Djokovic’s win over Zverev meant that the two and Krajinovic all finished with a 2-1 win-loss record and an identical 5-3 set difference.
Krajinovic, who stunned world No. 1 Djokovic on Saturday after losing to Zverev, squeezed through on the basis of having the best games differential among the three.
Austria’s world No. 3 Dominic Thiem and Bulgaria’s 19th-ranked Grigor Dimitrov were playing in the other section to decide which of the two will face Krajinovic in the final.