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Djokovic breaks down in tears after hosting Belgrade exhibition

BELGRADE (Reuters) - An emotional Novak Djokovic could not hold back the tears while hosting a charity event at his tennis complex by the Danube River on Sunday.

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Although the world number one missed out on Sunday’s Adria Tour final, in which Dominic Thiem beat Serbian Filip Krajinovic 4-3 2-4 4-2, the event brought back a flood of memories for the 17-time Grand Slam champion who staged the exhibition while international tennis remains suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am not crying because I got knocked out of the tournament, I am just overwhelmed by emotion because this reminds me of my childhood,” the 33-year-old told the capacity 4,000 crowd as he received a standing ovation from his compatriots.

“It’s been an emotional few days and I want to thank everyone who made this possible... I love you all and thank you so much for turning up.”

Djokovic beat Germany’s Alexander Zverev on Sunday in his last round robin match but failed to secure his place in the final after both players and Krajinovic ended up with 2-1 win-loss records and an identical 5-3 set difference in their section.

Krajinovic, who stunned Djokovic on Saturday, squeezed through on the basis of having the best games differential among the three.

However, he was powerless to stop Thiem in the final.

“This tournament was for a good cause and we all gave our best,” Thiem said after finishing off the weekend with a 100% winning record.

“Many high quality matches in a great atmosphere, in front of a full crowd, so it was a perfect weekend.

“A very big thank you to everyone including Novak and his team, you all made my first trip to Serbia a very special one.”

The eight-man tournament featured a more streamlined format than what is seen on the main tour, with sets slashed to best-of-seven games.

The second leg of the tour will be held in Croatia’s coastal resort Zadar next weekend.

The third leg due in Montenegro on June 27 and 28 was scrapped on Saturday over coronavirus concerns and the final leg is set for Bosnia’s Banja Luka on July 3 and 4.

Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Pritha Sarkar

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