ATP Belgrade Tips: Take a chance on Kecmanovic against struggling Djokovic

There's round two and three action from the Serbia Open and the Barcelona Open on the ATP Tour on Thursday and Sean Calvert is taking on the world number one in Belgrade...

It looks like it'll be another rainy day at the Barcelona Open on Thursday and I'm not sure how much play they'll be able to get through, so with Belgrade having a much higher chance of play I'm concentrating on the Serbia Open today.

I said in Wednesday's preview that I wasn't convinced that Laslo Djere would have the mental strength to beat Novak Djokovic on his home court and that's exactly what happened, with Djere having chances to win it, but crumbling when it mattered most.

Now, Miomir Kecmanovic gets his chance to take down Djokovic and you have to say, on form, Kecmanovic has a great chance of grabbing the upset win in a repeat of the quarter final from last year's Serbia Open (Belgrade 1).

On that occasion, Djokovic was a 1.06 chance to beat Kecmanovic, which he duly did 6-1, 6-3, but things are very different this year, with Kecmanovic the one in form and Djokovic the player struggling.

Kecmanovic, in his last 10 main level matches (in which he's faced the likes of Alcaraz, Fritz, Korda, Berrettini, and Auger-Aliassime) has held serve 93% of the time, winning 71% of his service points and all of those matches were played on slow hard or clay.

He's won a very impressive 63% of his second serve points in those matches, so he's gone toe-to-toe with some of the best in the game and come out either winning or losing in a final set.

If - and it is a bit of a leap of faith because we don't know if he'll crumble like Djere did - he's able to play as he has been doing for the last couple of months this match is his for the taking and it's worth taking a chance at 2.60.

Rublev no certainty against improving Lehecka

Elsewhere in Belgrade on Thursday, Young Czech player Jiri Lehecka is on the upgrade right now, having broken into the top-100 for the first time after making the semi finals of the ATP 500 in Rotterdam on slow indoor hard a couple of months ago.

Now he faces a tough assignment in world number eight Andrey Rublev, but Lehecka has had three matches in Belgrade now to get used to the conditions and he's yet to drop a set, so I don't expect this to be easy for Rublev.

The Russian hasn't been in the best of form coming into this and did have a shoulder problem in Miami a few weeks ago, so I'm not totally sure of his fitness at the moment.

Lehecka is almost certainly better suited to quicker conditions than this, but I wouldn't rule him out of winning a set in this match.

Most tennis bettors that have been around for a number of years will no doubt be aware of Fabio Fognini's almost perfect 8-1 career series lead over Aljaz Bedene, with the Slovenian taking the most recent one after losing eight in a row to Fognini.

This tenth career meeting looks likely to go the way of the Italian as well, with Bedene just coming back from a long layoff and with just three matches under his belt since July 2021.

"It's a positive sign, I'm not fully fit yet," Bedene said after his narrow win over Mikhail Kuksushkin in round one here in Belgrade. "I want to get back to that point. It's a good sign to play 2 hours 37 minutes."

Aslan Karatsev AO 2022.jpg

So, I'm not expecting an upset there (although you can never be sure with Fognini), but there may be one when Oscar Otte takes on Aslan Karatsev, who didn't look in the best of fitness in Monte-Carlo.

I'm not sure I could back the inconsistent and unpredictable Otte as short as 2.3 though, as he was a little flattered by his win over Alejandro Tabilo, who wasn't fit after a quick dash from the United States to Serbia.

Taro Daniel was a narrow winner in a final set tie break over our man Dusan Lajovic on Tuesday evening and showed himself to be tough to put away in the slow conditions at night, although Lajovic needed to change it up a bit in that match.

I counted one drop shot that Lajovic played in that clash, with the Serbian also guilty of refusing to come to the net for the easy volley when he could see that a weak sliced response was about to come his way.

The layers think that Holger Rune will do a better job of overpowering Daniel and I suspect they're right, but 1.46 is plenty short enough on Rune and shows the great strides that the young Dane has made lately.

So, with play likely to be very much affected by rain in Barcelona on Thursday I'll just take one point on Kecmanovic to beat Djokovic in Belgrade.

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