Andrey Rublev won his third tour-level championship of the season on Sunday, defeating World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and a boisterous Serbian audience to win the Serbia Open.
The second dug deep against Djokovic, hitting with tremendous force and effort to beat the home favorite 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-0 at the ATP 250 clay-court event.
The 24-year-old saved five set points in the second set to force a tie-break. While he was unable to prevent Djokovic from leveling the match, Rublev rebounded in the decision to win after two hours and 29 minutes.
Rublev has now tied Rafael Nadal of Spain for the most tour-level championships in 2022. He won in Marseille and Dubai in February. With his first victory against a World No. 1, the World No. 8 has tied the ATP Head2Head series against Serbian Djokovic at 1-1, avenging his loss at the Nitto ATP Finals last season.
Djokovic was participating in his third tournament of the season, aiming to win his first championship of the year against Rublev. The 34-year-old battled past Laslo Djere, Miomir Kecmanovic, and Karen Khachanov in three sets as he pushed his way back into form after losing in the quarter-finals in Dubai and a shock second-round setback against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Monte Carlo.
Rublev arrived in Belgrade after losing in the second and third rounds of the ATP Masters 1000 tournaments at Miami and Monte Carlo, respectively.
Djokovic had previously come back from a set down in each of his three victories in his home tournament, defeating Laslo Djere, Miomir Kecmanovic, and Karen Khachanov on his way to the final in his fifth, sixth, and seventh matches of the year.
The 20-time Grand Slam winner began his clay-court season with a surprise loss to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina the previous week at the Monte Carlo Masters, his first match since being ousted in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Championships in February.
Dubai was his first tournament of the year, following his exclusion from the Australian Open due to his unvaccinated status, which also prohibited him from competing in events in the United States last month.