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21 Jan, 2022 08:40

Serb marches on in Australia after vowing to ‘avenge’ Djokovic

Miomir Kecmanovic pulled off a shock to beat Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego in Melbourne
Serb marches on in Australia after vowing to ‘avenge’ Djokovic

Miomir Kecmanovic produced the biggest win of his career to move into the Australian Open fourth round, as the Serbian star who had been scheduled to meet Novak Djokovic earlier in the tournament continued his progress.

Kecmanovic saw off Italian 25th seed Lorenzo Sonego in four sets in Melbourne on Friday, 6-4 6-7 6-2 7-5, to reach the last 16 of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career.

As the 22-year-old breaks new ground, Kecmanovic said he had been granted a “second chance” after initially being scheduled to play countryman Djokovic in the opening round in Melbourne, only for the world number one to be deported.

“I’m happy I was able to stay calm and come through,” Kecmanovic said after beating Sonego, 26.

“It’s unbelievable, a week ago I was supposed to play the world number one and didn’t have much of a chance there, but now I’m in the last 16 so I’m happy I was able to use this chance.

“I didn’t have much pressure because I felt I got a second chance, I wanted to use it as best I can,” added the former world junior number one.

Despite benefitting from his absence, Kecmanovic has been sympathetic to Djokovic throughout the tennis icon’s ordeal.

The youngster said he would dedicate his first-round victory over Salvatore Caruso – Djokovic’s replacement – to the world number one, and that he was intent on “avenging” him.

“We said we were going to give everything we have, try to avenge him in a way and make him proud,” Kecmanovic had said after Djokovic lost his legal battle to remain in Australia.

When asked on Friday if he had spoken to Djokovic, who arrived back in Belgrade earlier this week, Kecmanovic said he had not been in touch because he wanted to give the 20-time Grand Slam champion some space.    

“No, not really [I haven’t had any contact with Djokovic],” said the world number 77.

“I think he’s still recovering from everything, I didn’t want to bother him, to give him his space. I’ll definitely talk to him eventually after things calm down.”

Belgrade-born Kecmanovic next meets experienced French 17th seed Gael Monfils on Sunday – a man he lost to in the Paris Masters in three sets last November.

The Serb said he expected a “tough” contest from Monfils, who booked his fourth round spot with a straight-sets win against Chilean 16th seed Cristian Garin on Friday.

“But I’ve also played really good, I have this momentum going, hopefully it will be enough,” Kecmanovic said.