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Djokovic digs deep again to reach Serbia Open semifinals

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic dug deep for the second match in a row to reach the semifinals of the Serbia Open with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Miomir Kecmanovic on Thursday.

Kecmanovic won the opening set without facing a break point, but Djokovic finally showed signs of getting back to his best in the second and then won the final four games of the decider in what was just his sixth match of the year.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion stretched his winning streak against compatriots to 10 matches going back to a loss to Janko Tipsarevic in Madrid in 2012.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates a point against Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia during their quarter final tennis match of the Serbia Open tennis tournament in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, April 21, 2022. (AP PhotoDarko Vojinovic)

Djokovic next plays third-seeded Karen Khachanov, who defeated Brazilian qualifier Thiago Monteiro 7-5, 6-4.

Djokovic also endured a tough game Wednesday when he rallied from a set down to beat compatriot Laslo Djere 2-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4).

He joked that he's happy he would not have to face another Serb in the semifinals.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates at the end of their quarter final tennis match of the Serbia Open tennis tournament against Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia, in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, April 21, 2022. (AP PhotoDarko Vojinovic)

Djokovic opened his clay-court season with a surprising loss to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at the Monte Carlo Masters last week, his first match since being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships in February. Dubai was his first tournament of the year after he was barred from playing at the Australian Open because of his unvaccinated status, which also prevented him from playing tournaments in the United States last month.

Earlier Thursday, second-seeded Andrey Rublev defeated Jiri Lehecka 4-6, 7-6 (1), 6-2 and Fabio Fognini enjoyed a 6-2, 6-3 win over Aljaz Bedene to reach the quarterfinals.

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates a point against Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia during their quarter final tennis match of the Serbia Open tennis tournament in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, April 21, 2022. (AP PhotoDarko Vojinovic)

Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts during their quarter final tennis match of the Serbia Open tennis tournament against Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia, in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, April 21, 2022. (AP PhotoDarko Vojinovic)

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates a point against Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia during their quarter final tennis match of the Serbia Open tennis tournament in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, April 21, 2022. (AP PhotoDarko Vojinovic)

Novak Djokovic's coach Goran Ivanisevic watches as Serbia's Novak Djokovic plays Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia during their quarter final tennis match of the Serbia Open tennis tournament in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, April 21, 2022. (AP PhotoDarko Vojinovic)

Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia celebrates a point against Novak Djokovic of Serbia during their quarter final tennis match of the Serbia Open tennis tournament in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, April 21, 2022. (AP PhotoDarko Vojinovic)

Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns a ball to Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia during their quarter final tennis match of the Serbia Open tennis tournament in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, April 21, 2022. (AP PhotoDarko Vojinovic)