Novak Djokovic calls for help in Serbia
ROME // Novak Djokovic on Saturday appealed for help as the heaviest rains in more than a century sparked floods across Bosnia and his native Serbia, claiming at least 16 lives.
“These floods are unprecedented ... we’re talking about whole cities being evacuated,” Djokovic said after winning a tough clash with hard-hitting Canadian Milos Raonic to book a place in the final of the Rome Masters.
After a 6-7, 7-6, 6-3 victory, Djokovic, the world No 2, wrote a message in Cyrillic on a television camera.
He later explained: “The message I wrote was to help support Serbia. I wrote in Cyrillic, ‘I love you’.”
More than 15,000 people have been evacuated from several towns throughout Serbia. Authorities said some 95,000 homes in Serbia and 60,000 in Bosnia have no electricity.
Djokovic, a huge star in his country, said the situation has left him feeling helpless.
“I’m following news online, trying to be as involved as much as I can,” he said.“But even the people who are there, they can’t do much.
“Nature is a higher force, and these floods are unprecedented. I’m feeling uncomfortable ... I can’t help while being here. Unfortunately, it’s not being spoken about enough, but it’s probably the biggest flood Europe has even seen.
“I just hope people can find the common sense to spread the word. We need help. We need the rain to stop after four days.
“But then there’s going to be a period of several months recovery.”
In what could be an epic final, Djokovic will play his 41st career match with world No 1 Rafael Nadal, who easily defeated Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 in the late semifinal last night in 1 hour, 22 minutes.
Djokovic’s match was highly tactical, with Raonic serving near 230 kph (140 mph) and firing 16 aces.
“I can’t recall the last time when I was feeling so helpless in the return games,” Djokovic said. “It was brutal.”
In the women’s draw, Sara Errani became the first home player to reach the final in nearly 30 years.
Using vocal crowd support to her advantage, the 10th-seeded Errani fought back from a 4-1 deficit in the second set for a 6-3, 7-5 win over sixth-seeded Jelena Jankovic.
Errani’s opponent in Sunday’s final will be world No 1 and defending champion Serena Williams, who gained revenge for her fourth-round Australian Open loss to Ana Ivanovic by beating the Serb 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.
Errani drew emotion from the crowd.
“There were a few moments when I thought I might not pull it off, but the fans were huge,” Errani said.
Errani is attempting to become the first Italian to win the tournament since Raffaella Reggi took the 1985 title.
It is already Errani’s best result since reaching the 2012 French Open final, and gives her momentum heading back to Roland Garros next week.
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Published: May 18, 2014 04:00 AM