Bengaluru, June 15: An emotional Novak Djokovic broke down while hosting an event at his home town in Belgrade as the charity event revived a lot of fond memories for the 17-time Grand Slam champion who staged it while international tennis remains suspended due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The ATP world number one missed out on Adria Tour final held at the Novak Tennis Centre on the banks of the Danube River and later broke down in tears in front of an enthusiastic home crowd.
"I'm not crying because I missed the finals. I'm just overwhelmed by emotion because this reminds me of my childhood," the 33-year-old told some 4,000 fans packed at the venue.
"It's been an emotional few days and I want to thank everyone who supported the event and made it happen."
To a standing ovation, the Serbian ace added, "I love you all and thank you so much for coming."
Third-ranked Dominic Thiem, number seven Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov, the world 19, also took part in the Adria Tour.
The four headline stars were joined by Serbian ATP players - Viktor Troicki, Filip Krajinovic and Dusan Lajovic.
Two big surprises marked the tournament -- Djokovic lost to Krajinovic in three sets and Dimitrov went down in two against late call-up Nikola Milojevic.
Djokovic's win against Zverev was not enough to secure him a place in the final which saw Thiem defeat Krajinovic 4-3, 2-4, 4-2.
The eight-man tournament featured a more streamlined format than what is seen on the ATP World Tour, with sets slashed to best-of-seven games.
During the sidelines of the tournament, Djokovic paired with compatriot and former women's world N.1 Jelelna Jankovovic in a doubles exhibition match.
The second leg of the Tour will be held in Croatia's coastal resort Zadar next weekend while the organisers faced a major embarrassment when the third leg due in Montenegro on June 27 and 28 was scrapped over coronavirus concerns.
The final leg is set for Bosnia's Banja Luka on July 3 and 4.
Asked on social distancing measures in ]Belgrade event, which witnessed packed stands, Djokovic said that both Serbia and the region had been relatively successful in containing the virus.
"Of course you can criticise, you can also say this is dangerous or not, but it's not up to me to make the calls what is health-wise right or wrong," Djokovic said while stressing he was acting in line with recommendations of the Serbian government.
(With ATP Media inputs)