May 11th, 2009 16:14 EST
Djokovic Wins First-Ever Title Held In Native Country
Number three ranked men`s player in the world, Novak Djokovic defeated #179 seeded Lukasz Kubot of Poland 6-3, 7-6 (7/0) to win the first-ever ATP Serbia Open claycourt tournament before a packed stadium cheering on their native tennis star.
The ATP Serbia Open, the first ATP championship in the country, was formerly the ABM Amro Open in the Netherlands before Djokovic`s family purchased the rights to hold the competition in Belgrade.
The title is now the second victory the 2008 Australian Open champion has won this tennis season after his trumph at the Dubai Open at the close of February. Djokovic is now gearing up for the French Open championship claycourt tournament at Roland Garros in two weeks where world number one Rafael Nadal will be defending his dynasty.
The top-ranked Serbian was competing in his fourth straight tournament final after making it to the semifinals at Miami, Monte-Carlo and Rome.
"Of course I felt pressure (throughout the week). I was aware of the fact that most expectations are behind me and having the role of the main favorite to win the event is never easy," Djokovic said. "Under these circumstances I had to play against two Serbians in the first two matches. So there were a lot of things involved but I`m relieved in a way that I could mentally overcome these challenges and go all the way through."
The runner-up for the title on the other hand was vying for the first ATP championship of his career after he bested the second highest-seeded player in the tournament, Croatian Ivo Karlovic.
Kubot became eligible for tournament competition as a lucky loser after Steve Darcis dropped out of the championship series with a shoulder injury. The native Pole was first from his country to make it to an ATP final since Wojtek Fibak advanced to the Basel final back in 1983.
Kubot said: "I have one of my best memories here in Serbia, and hope to be back next year."
During most of the match, Kubot almost tied the Serbian`s first-serve percentage, but fell into a disadvantage as his second-serve rate of success plummeted to 33 percent.
He served for the second set, but two of his spectacular drop shots were quickly returned by Djokovic, which led to a tiebreaker. Kubot then dropped three service points to give the Serbian the set.
It only took an hour and 50 minutes for Djokovic to defeat the overqualifer on his home court.
Before 7,000 spectators at the converted tennis arena next to the Danube River, Djovokic proudly accepted his 13th ATP career title.
With the trophy in hand, Djokovic said: "Although this is not one of the biggest tournament I had won, it means the most to me."
Even with the title, Djokovic will lose his standing as the third ranked men`s player in the world by next week`s ATP World Tour rankings, being displaced by the number four Andy Murray, who defeated the Serbian in the Miami final earlier this year.