Novak Djokovic, a kid hailing from the war-torn region Belgrade has shaped the present state of Serbian tennis. Almost 17 years ago, in July 2003 he earned his first ATP point. At the time, there were only two Serbians Janko Tipsarevic (No. 147) and Boris Pashanski (No. 254) ranked in the Top 300 of the ATP Rankings. Today “Djokovic’s influence extends to every Serbian with a racquet.”
With Djokovic’s 77 ATP titles Serbian tennis is experiencing its best era ever. Currently there are five Serbian players inside the Top 60 of the ATP Rankings with the 16-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic on the second spot in the world rankings.
Djokovic was one-Slam-old when he won a bronze medal for Serbia at Beijing Olympics 2008 but post that the Serb has been engaged in making and breaking records on the professional tour. He did not just work upon his game he also revolutionized the state of tennis in his nation and opened the gateway for others to pick up tennis racquets in Serbia.
At present Novak Djokovic is the oldest Serbian on the Top 60 ATP roster. After Janko Tipsarevic hanging his tennis racquets and Viktor Troicki dropping his ATP ranking make Djokovic the most-experienced Serbian tennis professional on the ATP Circuit. He is presently leading the ATP’s Serbians players.
29-year-old Dusan Lajovic is the second-highest ranked Serbian in the ATP Rankings. This year he won his first ATP title at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag and that certainly remarked Djokovic’s heirs from the country with a population of seven million people.
“I think it’s great for Serbian tennis,” Djokovic lauded Lajovic’s success. “I think it’s important that other players from Serbia are also doing really well in big tournaments. That inspires obviously many younger tennis players to dream big.”
Also, Lajovic reached the finals at Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters 2019 after defeating Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals.
“He hasn’t surprised me with the level of tennis on clay, because I knew that he has the ability to play at a really high level,” Djokovic said of Lajovic. “But to do it day after day at such a big tournament and to win against big players like Dominic Thiem is phenomenal, and I congratulate him for the great success.”
Next to Lajovic another Serbian star, Laslo Djere is ranked on the 38th spot. The 24-year-old Djere also won his first career title at Rio Open this year. In Brazil, he pulled off his first career top-ten victory by upsetting the top seed Dominic Thiem in the opening round of the tournament.
Djere talked about Djokovic’s humility off the courts. “We know each other and always say a few words when we see each other at tournaments,” Djere spoke about Djokovic.
“He sent me a message when I reached the Top 100 [of the ATP Rankings] and called me to play doubles with him at the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships when I was nowhere close to the Top 100. He’s a great guy and an inspiration to all of us,” he added.
The teenager Miomir Kecmanovic is another Serbian talent in making. He is presently ranked 59th in the world. In March he became the first lucky loser to reach the BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals in Indian Wells. Djokovic constantly engages himself in encouraging his young compatriots.
Serbian World Number 40 Filip Krajinovic reached the finals of Rolex Paris Masters 2017. This year he reached two more ATP Tour finals in Budapest and Stockholm. Krajinovic is delighted to receive time to time advises from Djokovic an. d is pleased with his presence
“He’s amazing, one of the best ever. So it’s a pleasure, and we are so proud to have him. And, of course, he gives us advice. He went through all [these situations] like we are now. So we are very pleased and happy that we have Novak,” Krajinovic said.
Krajinovic believes that a small country like Serbia is presently shining in the tennis world because of the perseverance of the players. Not just tennis, Serbia has also produced numerous professional footballers.
“It’s amazing that a small country like Serbia has so many good players,” Krajinovic said. “I don’t think there is any difference [between other countries]. We [are] just a small country, and we have a lot of very good sportsmen. And I think we do everything like other countries, I think. We [are] just strong and we work a lot. That’s it.”
For the ATP Cup Novak Djokovic will compete alongside World Number 137 Nikola Milojevic. Milojevic mentioned that Djokovic puts in selfless efforts for educating the upcoming tennis players from Serbia. In Serbia Novak Djokovic is celebrated like ‘Christmas’ and he is the epitome of a legendary tennis player.
“Since he became No. 1 and has done all these amazing things, things got better for the players back home. In terms of improving conditions to practice in Serbia and having a lot more courts to play on, we owe it all to him,” Milojevic said.