There’s been no shortage of fascinating storylines at the 2022 Australian Open so far. The most attention has gone, of course, to the Novak Djokovic deportation saga. The entire scandal finally drew to a close on Sunday, and it seems like most players are ready to move on. Not everyone though. The remaining Serbian players in the tournament have set out to avenge what they see as an injustice. And they’ve done well on their promise thus far.
Lajovic and Kecmanovic Dedicate 1st Round Wins to Djokovic
Lajovic Unveils “GOAT” Flag After Victory
Those who let their eyes stray over to Court 14 on the opening day of action at the Happy Slam weren’t disappointed. In a spectacular match, Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic defeated Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics 6-3 4-6 6-1 6-7 (6-8) 6-1 to advance to the second round.
Throughout the contest, echoes of “Dule, Dule!” (Lajovic’s nickname) could be heard around the small stadium. After finishing Fucsovics off, Lajovic raised his arms in triumph and expressed his gratitude to the fans before unveiling a Serbian flag.
This wasn’t your typical Serbian flag, though. In place of the country’s coat of arms, the edited flag had a picture of Djokovic’s smiling face in the center. Around it were the words “Like it or not, Greatest of All Time.” The gesture from Lajovic sent a simple and effective message–Djokovic’s greatness is undeniable.
Kecmanovic Slams “Unjust” Treatment of Djokovic
A few hours after Lajovic’s five-set win, World No. 77 Miomir Kecmanovic had a much easier time dealing with his opponent. The young Serb dispatched lucky loser Salvatore Caruso of Italy in straight sets, 6-4 6-2 6-1. Caruso was added to the draw as a late replacement for the top-seeded Djokovic, who withdrew on Sunday afternoon.
In an emotional Instagram post prior to his first-round match, Kecmanovic called Djokovic’s deportation a “tough pill to swallow.” The 22-year-old also shared his disappointment that he wouldn’t get to face his idol on Rod Laver Arena.
Kecmanovic maintained similar sentiments in a post-match interview with Serbian outlet Sport Klub. He freely called Djokovic’s deportation “nonsense that never should have happened,” a feeling that he claims other Serbian players share. The youngster also expressed gratitude to Djokovic for his “support and unselfishness” throughout Kecmanovic’s career. Most importantly, Kecmanovic said that he and his fellow Serbs would “give the best that we can and hopefully make it up for [Djokovic].” The interview ended with a last criticism of the “unjust” treatment the nine-time Australian Open champion had received from politicians.
What’s Next for Serbian Players in at the Australian?
While Kecmanovic and Lajovic recorded wins, Nikola Milojevic and Laslo Djere exited the Australian Open with four-set losses to Mackenzie McDonald and Denis Shapovalov, respectively. One more Serbian player is yet to play his first round match–Filip Krajinovic faces Diego Schwartzman of Argentina in the opening match on 1573 Arena Tuesday.
Despite a positive start, it’s hard to see Kecmanovic and Lajovic making particularly deep runs at this tournament. Still, vengeance is a powerful tool, and they’ll be hungrier than ever to reach new heights.
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