Serbian champion Novak Djokovic arrived at Belgrade airport on Monday midday after a stopover in Dubai. Several hundred fans and journalists were present to welcome him. But it is especially in his club that the young hopefuls of Serbian tennis await the return of their hero with a firm footing.
Tennis world number 1 Novak Djokovic arrived in Belgrade, Serbia on Monday after being expelled from Australia, the epilogue of a long saga around his vaccination status which deprives him of a tenth victory at the Australian Open. In Serbia, where “Nole” is a hero, his expulsion scandalized the government, sports bodies and his fans. From now on, the young hopefuls of Serbian tennis are only waiting for one thing: the return of Djoko to the courts. Europe 1 went to the club where he used to train.
“He comes out even stronger”
White sneakers stained with clay, 16-year-old Alex attacks the ball determined like his idol Djokovic. “Of course the Australian affair will have an impact on his career, but with each injustice, he comes out even stronger,” he said. His playing partner, Victor, like him has only one thing in mind: his future professional career in Novak’s footsteps. The world number 1 has walked the same courts here, at the Partisans club. “He’s a role model for me. It’s really not good what they did to him in Australia. It was his tournament, the one he had to win,” laments the young man.
On a nearby court, 14-year-old Masha smiles. She also in sport-studies, she is convinced that the best is yet to come in Novak’s season. “He’s the first in the world, I only look at him. I want to be like that,” she says. “I’ve seen him dozens of times, we’re talking to him… It’ll be great if he comes.” The three nuggets of Serbian tennis hope to be in the front row when their hero comes to train here to relaunch his season in Belgrade.