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Ricky’s Tennis picks for Wednesday in Belgrade: Djokovic, Kecmanovic in front of home fans

Novak Djokovic plays his hometown tournament in Belgrade. Photo credit: Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

By Ricky Dimon

Novak Djokovic will kick off his Belgrade campaign against fellow Serb Laslo Djere during second-round action on Wednesday. It’s a big day for the host nation overall, as a red-hot Miomir Kecmanovic is facing John Millman.

Here are my previews and picks for two of the best matchups in Belgrade.

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. Laslo Djere

Djokovic and Djere will be going head-to-head for the first time in their careers when they clash in round two of the Belgrade Open on Wednesday. This marks just the third tournament of 2022 for Djokovic, who has only played in Dubai and Monte-Carlo. The small sample size of matches has not been good, either; he lost in the Dubai quarterfinals to Jiri Vesely and fell right away in Monte-Carlo at the hands of eventual runner-up Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Whereas the world No. 1 earned a bye in Belgrade as the top seed, Djere got his week started on Tuesday and defeated compatriot Hamad Medjedovic 6-4, 7-5. The 26-year-old is back on his favorite surface and is looking to win back-to-back matches in a third consecutive event. He reached the semifinals in Marrakech and the third round in Monte-Carlo (lost to eventual champion Stefanos Tsitsipas). This is not the easiest of opening opponents for Djokovic, but you have to think he is finally going to start picking up some wins this season.

Pick: Djokovic in 2

Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia faces Aussie John Millman in Belgrade. EPA-EFE/David Guzman

John Millman vs. (7) Miomir Kecmanovic

With Djokovic having been borderline inactive this season, Kecmanovic is by far the most in-form Serb on tour these days. He is without a doubt playing the best tennis of his career, having reached the quarterfinals in Rio de Janeiro, Indian Wells, and Miami to go along with a fourth-round performance at the Australian Open. The world No. 38 secured his 18th match victory of the year by destroying Richard Gasquet 6-0, 6-3 on Monday.

Up next for Kecmanovic is a third career encounter with Millman. They have split their two previous meetings; Millman cruised 6-1, 6-2 at the 2019 Bucharest event before Kecmanovic got the job done 6-4, 6-2 at the 2020 Paris Masters. Millman produced perhaps the best clay-court victory of his career on Monday, beating Dominic Thiem 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. Of course, the two-time French Open runner-up is a shadow of his real self right now so it’s not like Millman suddenly loves the red stuff. The 80th-ranked Aussie is still just 6-8 this season and he has never been particularly comfortable on clay, so Kecmanovic should win this one in a hurry.

Pick: Kecmanovic in 2

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.