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Djokovic’s party in Belgrade excites tennis fans

Djokovic’s party in Belgrade excites tennis fans

After three months without activity due to the coronavirus pandemic, some of the best tennis players in the world return to the competition and meet the public in Belgrade, in the solidarity tournament organized by Novak Djokovic.

“I haven’t seen so many people in the same place in months,” German Alexander Zverev smiled at a pre-tournament press conference dubbed the ‘Adria Tour’.

Host Djokovic was proud to have been able, in just a few weeks, to organize this tournament, the first in a series that will continue in the Balkans until July 5.

– Get closer to the stars –

Since Friday the fans flocked to the venue to get closer to the stars: Djokovic (world No. 1), Grigor Dimitrov (No. 19), Dominic Thiem (No. 3) and Zverev (No. 7).

The tennis players were delighted and close, lending themselves to selfies and mingling with a group of children who are starting out in the sport of racket.

The only problem has been that the organizers have had to give up the Montenegrin stage, scheduled for June 27 and 28, due to the strict sanitary measures imposed by the authorities of that country, which keep the border with Serbia closed. “An insurmountable obstacle”, according to the organization.

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In Belgrade the public was able to watch Thiem train with Zverev, as well as watch a series of exhibition matches.

Serbian Jelena Jankovic, former world number 1, participated in the party. He came out of an unannounced retirement, after more than two years without playing, to play a mixed doubles associated with ‘Djoko’.

The ‘Adria Tour’ takes place Saturday and Sunday on clay, the best of two sets, four games each.

The four stars of the ATP are joined by four local players; Viktor Troicki (N.184), Filip Krajinovic (N. 32), Dusan Lajovic (N.23) and Nikola Milojevic (N.168).

The eight players are divided into two groups of four. The winners of each bracket will play the final on Sunday.

– Defeats of ‘Nole’ and Dimitrov –

On Saturday’s day there were two big surprises: the defeats of Djokovic and Dimitrov, beaten by Krajinovic in three sets and by Milojevic in two sets, respectively.

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Milojevic is a young Serbian player who replaced at the last minute the Bosnian number one Damir Dzumhur (N.107), injured in one leg when he had only played two games against Thiem.

In the rest of the parties, the hierarchy prevailed.

– Capital of the planet tennis –

The immense popularity of Djokovic in his country, but also the fact that the ATP and WTA circuits have been interrupted since March and at least until the beginning of August, have made the ‘Adria Tour’ the tennis event of the peculiar moment.

The organization, following the rules of lack of refinement in Serbia, sold only 1,000 tickets, sold out in seven minutes.

Later, taking advantage of the measures being eased, the organization opened 2,000 additional places, distributed to the sponsors.

“It’s fantastic, we’re in the tennis capital of the planet this weekend,” enthuses 25-year-old Dusan Bogicevic, who is studying law in Belgrade.

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Spectators did not seem concerned about the sanitary precautions put in place by the organizers. Each of them received a mask at the entrance to the stadium, but inside few wore it.

Reacting to criticism for the breach of social distancing, Djokovic stressed that the region had had a “rather decent success” in the fight against the pandemic, with 24,000 infected and fewer than 800 dead for a total population of 22 million people and that the orders “of the Serbian government” were respected.

After Belgrade, the ‘Adria Tour’ will travel to Zadar, on the Croatian Adriatic coast, on June 20 and 21, where two figures from that country will join the competition, Marin Cilic (37th), champion of the Open United States of 2014, and Borna Coric (33rd).

With the Montenegrin stage canceled, the tournament will end in Bosnia on July 3 and 4, in Banja Luka (northwest) and close with an exhibition match in Sarajevo between Bosnian number one Damir Dzumhur (No. 107) and Novak Djokovic. AFP (HN)

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