Novak Djokovic reaches final of Serbia Open – his first final of 2022

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Novak Djokovic reached his first final of 2022 by beating Karen Khachanov in the semi-final of the Serbia Open.

In front of his home crowd in Belgrade, the world number one fought back to beat his Russian opponent 4-6 6-1 6-2.

The clay court event is Djokovic’s third this season after a disrupted start to the year beginning with his deportation from Australia in January.

Women’s world number one Iga Swiatek reached the Stuttgart Open final with a gruelling win over Liudmila Samsonova.

Poland’s Swiatek won a three-hour semi-final 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 7-5 to extend her winning run to 22 matches and keep alive a hope of a fourth consecutive title.

She will play world number four Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in Sunday’s final.

Djokovic will play Russian second seed Andrey Rublev, who comfortably beat Italian Fabio Fognini 6-2 6-2, for the title, also on Sunday.

novak Djokovic

Djokovic was unable to compete at the Australian Open after being deported because of his Covid-19 vaccination status.

He returned at the Dubai Tennis Championships in February but went out in the quarter-finals and then missed the US hard court swing, again because of his vaccination status.

On his return to the tour he suffered a shock defeat by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his opening match at the Monte Carlo Masters earlier this month.

When world number 31 Samsonova clinched the first-set tie-break, a run which had seen Swiatek win 28 sets in a row came to an end.

During her winning streak 20-year-old Swiatek has collected titles in Doha, Indian Wells and Miami – and ascended to the top of the rankings after Ashleigh Barty’s retirement – but her 23-year-old opponent came as close to inflicting defeat as any other opponent in recent months.

After the pair exchanged four breaks early in the deciding set, the 2020 French Open champion crucially held serve under pressure at 5-4 down, broke again a game later and clinched her first match point in the following game.

She faces Sabalenka, who beat world number three Paula Badosa of Spain 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in the first semi-final.

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