An emotional Novak Djokovic wrapped up the first leg of his charity tournament Sunday in Belgrade, Serbia, and his tears had nothing to do with his final standing.
Djokovic’s Adria Tour, which he planned in conjunction with his charity foundation while he was in Spain amid the sport’s pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, featured a raucous weekend of tennis in his home country in front of capacity crowds. And though the world’s top-ranked player went just 2-1 in the event, the tournament’s success got the better of him late.
“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,” Djokovic told the crowd of 4,000 fans who were giving him a standing ovation. “It’s been an emotional few days and I want to thank everyone who made this possible. … I love you all and thank you so much for turning up.”
After going 1-1 Saturday, Djokovic defeated Alexander Zverev on Sunday in his last round-robin match, but failed to qualify for the final. Dominic Thiem defeated Filip Krajinovic 4-3, 2-4, 4-2 to conquer the event, which featured sets that were best-of-seven-games, and eight players competing in two pools.
Thiem ended the leg unbeaten.
“This tournament was for a good cause and we all gave our best,” Thiem said. “Many high-quality matches in a great atmosphere, in front of a full crowd, so it was a perfect weekend.”
Djokovic, undefeated in 2020 regular play before tennis was paused, defeated Viktor Troicki in his opening match Saturday, in consecutive sets, but lost to Krajinovic 4-2, 2-4, 1-4 later that night.
The second leg of the exhibition will be held in Croatia on June 20-21 and the final stop will be in Bosnia on July 3-4. Djokovic and event organizers are searching for an option to host the third leg, slated for June 27-28, after they announced Saturday that their Montenegro location had to be canceled due to concerns surrounding COVID-19.
Djokovic won his 17th Grand Slam event at the Australian Open and was 18-0 before play was paused this year. He was rated No. 1 when ATP rankings were frozen on March 23. No professional tournaments have been played since March. The French Open is postponed, and Wimbledon was canceled.