World number one Novak Djokovic's barren title spell in 2022 continued as he went down 6-2 6-7(4) 6-0 to Russian Andrey Rublev in the Serbia Open final in Belgrade on Sunday.
Playing his second tournament on clay this season after being knocked out by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Monte Carlo earlier this month, Djokovic was off to a slow start as second seed Rublev broke him twice to clinch the opening set 6-2.
Djokovic had prevailed from a set down in his last three matches and the 20-times major winner, cheered on by a capacity home crowd, raised his game in the second set to take the tie-breaker despite earlier squandering five set points on the Rublev serve.
The Serbian missed a chunk of the early season, including the Australian Open as well as ATP Masters 1000 events in Miami and Indian Wells, due to his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19 - and his lack of match practice showed in the deciding set on Sunday.
Rublev galloped to an early lead and barely gave his opponent a chance as he closed out the match with a powerful forehand winner for his 11th career title.