Djokovic battles into Belgrade final, awaits qualifier Molcan

Novak Djokovic needed three sets to reach the Belgrade final on Friday. After holding off Andrej Martin, the world No 1 awaits qualifier Alex Molcan in Saturday’s championship match.

Djokovic celebration

At least on paper, it will be one of the most lopsided final matchups in ATP Tour history at the Belgrade Open. That much is guaranteed after Novak Djokovic and Alex Molcan won their respective semifinal matches on Friday afternoon.

Djokovic, of course, is the world No 1 and an 18-time Grand Slam champion. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Molcan, a 23-year-old ranked 255th. He had never won a main-draw match on the main tour prior to this week.

Djokovic made to work again

Djokovic surrendered a set for the first time this week, but he was also tested in his opening match. Before trouncing Federico Coria 6-1, 6-0 in the quarter-finals, the top seed scraped past lucky loser Mats Moraing 6-2, 7-6(4). Djokovic’s most recent second-set hiccup against Martin cost him a set, but he quickly rebounded to oust the veteran Czech 6-1, 4-6, 6-0.

“I’m super excited to play in front of a Serbian crowd,” Belgrade’s fan favorite assured. “This is my home town. I’m always excited, but also nervous, coming out on the court and playing in front of my home crowd. It’s a very unique feeling. You feel a lot of pressure and expectations. But I’m just happy to fight for a trophy tomorrow.”

Molcan hot

From completely out of nowhere, Molcan is through to an ATP final for the first time ever. In fact, he had never even gotten past a first round. But following victories over Hama Medjedovic, Pedja Krstin (6-0, 6-0), and Fernando Verdasco, the Slovak upset an in-form Federico Delbonis 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 during semi-final action on Friday.

“I’m really happy about today’s win,” Molcan commented. “This is the biggest win of my career, of course. I will play my first final at ATP level against Djokovic, and I couldn’t be happier. I will try to enjoy tomorrow’s match [as much] as I can. I will try to have fun, and we’ll see what will happen.”

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