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Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Born in 1987, Novak Djokovic is a Serbian professional tennis player who has broken Nadal and Federer’s stranglehold on grand slam events to be ranked no. 1 in the world.

Funnily enough, he was born just a week apart from Andy Murray, Britain’s no. 1 player. They were involved in the same training camp when they were developing their games, and interestingly as juniors, Murray won the first match they played against eachother. It is a rivalry that is strong even to this day; both are the top 2 highest ranked men’s players.

Novak comes from a family of sportsman and woman. Djokovic’s father was a professional skier, he also played soccer. His two younger brothers, Marko and Djordje, also play tennis and have aspirations to go pro one day.

Djokovic has played at every slam final, and has played every grand slam final three times or more. His presence is always felt at the closing end of major tournaments. He has won ten Grand Slam titles and 26 Masters 1000 series titles, and at this point is chasing Federer’s slam mark.

A win at Roland Garros would cap the career Grand Slam for Novak. His favorite surface is without a doubt the faster hard courts, although he came so close to winning a major on clay, reaching the final of the 2015 French Open, however, he lost to Stan Wawrinka in four sets.

He is currently coached by former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker, one of the tennis legends that has taken on an active coaching role. Before Becker came on board, Marian Vajda was Djokovic’s main head coach since he was a teenager coming up through the ranks.

Early playing history

Novak began playing tennis when he was just 4 and a few years later he was discovered by tennis coach Jelena Gencic who had a great influence on him – not only shaping his groundstrokes, but encouraging Novak to learn different languages and to read poetry. Gencic worked with Djokovic over the following six years. During this time, the war in former Yugoslavia meant that Djokovic and his family would spend hours at a time in the basement of his grandfather’s Belgrade apartment.

Djokovic has said that the hardships of the war made him even more determined to succeed in tennis. But Jelena came to the realization that Novak would need to go abroad in order to improve his game even more by training with better players. She got in touch with Nikola Pilić who owns Pilic’s Tennis Academy in Oberschleißheim, Germany, and in 1999 the 12-year old moved to Germany for the next 4 years, and at age 14 Djokovic had begun his international career.

Rise to the top

He turned pro in 2003 when he was 16 years of age. Novak won the third career event of his short career, a Serbia & Montenegro Futures tournament. Two years later, Djokovic ended the year as the youngest player ranked in the Top 100. After a steady rise to the top of the sport, he claimed his first major tournament win at the 2008 Australian Open. The 20-year-old Novak was the youngest ever winner of the Australian Open.

Mark Woodforde, who is an Australian tennis legend, helped coach Djokovic on his volleys, making his game even more well-rounded, as his net game could now compliment his power game from the back of the court. He has an unbelievable two handed backhand, especially up the line, which most of Djokovic’s opponents have struggled with.

The 2011 tennis season for Novak Djokovic is widely regarded as one of the greatest seasons ever in men’s tennis, and that is really no exaggeration. He went undefeated until the French Open semi-finals, finishing the season with a 70-6 record and a year-end world ranking of no. 1.

Unbelievably, 2015 was even better for Djokovic. Although he didn’t quite manage such a long streak of wins, he finished the year with a 82-6 record. Speaking of great seasons, Novak’s 2015 is often compared with Federer’s 2006 season (92-5 record).

As the only major tournament to have eluded him so far, the French Open has become a priority for Djokovic. He has been in the French Open final, three of the past four years. Besides winning the only major tournament on clay, there isn’t a whole lot left for the Djoker to prove.

Professional highlights

Serbia’s no. 1 men’s tennis player finished the 2005 season as the youngest player in the Top 100, he was 18 years old.

Novak finished the 2007 season as the youngest player ranked in the Top 10 by winning 5 ATP titles and reach his first Grand Slam final at Flushing Meadows, New York City (losing to Federer). He also became the first Serbian tennis player to reach the final of a Grand Slam event.

In 2008, he broke another record, becoming the first Serbian to win a Grand Slam title, beating Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in four sets at the Australian Open, a tournament he would have fond memories of.

The Serb had a memorable 2011. Finishing the year ranked world no. 1, Djokovic claimed 10 singles titles, including 3 Grand Slams and 5 ATP Masters 1000 titles. He was the first player to win at least 10 titles in a single season since Federer managed the same feat in 2006. His 41-match winning streak (43 if you go back to the Davis Cup finals in 2010) was the longest winning streak since John McEnroe’s 42 wins in the 1984 season.

In June, 2013. Novak became the 40th player in ATP World Tour history to record 500 match wins in his career.

Fun facts about Novak Djokovic you might not know:

● Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic have been close since childhood. They know each other through Djokovic’s uncle and Ivanovic’s father.
● In 2011, Djokovic’s five ATP Masters 1000 titles in one season broke the record, tied by Rafael Nadal in 2013.
● He loves pizza, but due to dietary changes because he discovered he was allergic to gluten, he can’t eat it anymore.

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