Another Serbian diamond: Hamad Medjedovic is ready for a 2024 breakthrough
Following his title in Jeddah, Hamad Medjedovic will practise with Novak Djokovic for three weeks in Dubai, in hopes of boosting his game and fitness before the next season
During the peak of Serbia’s golden tennis generation with Novak Djokovic, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Janko Tipsarevic and others, there have been whispers – and louder voices quickly followed – about an extremely talented boy from Novi Pazar, cultural center of the Bosniaks in Serbia, a city with around 70 thousand inhabitants. His name was Hamad Medjedovic and he had just won the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah.
A serbian diamond in the rough
Local coach Edis Fetic quickly noticed that he had a diamond – although as yet unpolished – in his hands. He invited Bogdan Obradovic, who was the captain of Serbian Davis Cup team during the winning campaign in 2010, to witness nine-year-old Hamad first hand. Obradovic immediately liked what he saw and things moved on quickly from there.
Accompanied by his father Eldin, Hamad moved to Belgrade, spent eight years at Obradovic’s academy, gained attention from Novak Djokovic, who helped him both financially and as a mentor. Although the Novak Tennis Centre is closed, during his years there Hamad learned a lot, met many people significant for his growth, including his current coach Viktor Troicki, former world number 12.
“I am there for him, I hope that our cooperation will last for a long time and that we will both improve – Hamad as a player and myself as a coach,” Troicki told Tennis Majors.
The 2023 season saw a lot of ‘firsts’ for Medjedovic – he won three challengers,
made it through the qualifiers at Roland Garros and Wimbledon and reached two ATP semi-finals (Gstaad and Astana).
“I think my biggest improvement this year was my fitness. Transition from Futures to
Challengers to ATP Tour requires you to be physically ready because the matches are
exhausting, against quality opponents,” Medjedovic told Tennis Majors.
Increased focus the cornerstone of new-found success
Aside from that, Hamad’s focus on the court is getting increasingly better, as he is able to
keep his level high for longer periods of time.
“We worked on that at literally every practice. Viktor is standing behind me and he is in my ear constantly – telling me I can’t afford to make errors off easy shots. Lots of repetition, lots of communication and patience from Viktor’s side. Then, when I find myself in a similar position during matches, all the advice is in my head already, so it’s easier. And Viktor is there to remind me from the stands (laughing).”
Medjedovic looked to be on his way to achieving his primary goal – reaching the top 100 and avoiding having to play qualifiers at the Australian Open. In the last four tournaments, though, he won only one match and lost three by 7-6 in the deciding set.
After reaching the number 102 spot in the rankings, he fell to number 113, but still finished the year on a high by winning the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah.
“I am just glad that a lot of stuff we worked on came to fruition in Jeddah and helped him to win the title. First and foremost – consistency on his serve. He can serve bombs, we know that, but his first serve percentage would drop. Last week he was amazing all the way through. I mean – 69 aces, come on,” commented Troicki.
“He was aggressive on the return as well, trying to step in and take the initiative. During rallies he also held his ground – whenever he is positioned well on the court, he can attack, be aggressive and that is usually reflected positively on the scoreboard,” Troicki added.
next gen finals triumph a significant milestone for medjedovic
“At the start of my professional career, I used to put too much pressure on myself ranking-wise. Being in the top 100 is no small feat, but my ultimate goal is not to be top 100 – my goals are way higher. I am not going to give a number I would like to reach next season, but I believe in my abilities. I just want to be healthy,” said Medjedovic.
Hamad’s game is big, that is clear to anybody who has watched him play, with serve and forehand being his most valuable assets. The one word, though, that both Medjedovic and Troicki come back to frequently is ‘consistency’.
“It happens to me that my first serve percentage drops a lot or I make some silly mistakes with my forehand giving away points to my opponent. That is going to be the emphasis of my work during the offseason. As far as my backhand goes, I feel I’ve improved a lot with Viktor there – another hole in my game eliminated,” said Medjedovic.
fitness and physical prowess are next on list
Also, the 20-year-old Serbian needs to take the next step physically as well, in order to be able to match the best players in the world on a weekly basis.
“In the past few years, I feel tennis comes down to it a lot of times. That’s what all the older players are telling me right now – fitness, fitness, fitness,” said Medjedovic.
His words are echoed by Troicki, who as a player was known to be an exceptionally hard worker, always in impeccable physical shape.
“Viktor is a fantastic coach – both on and off the court, we talk a lot and he is always there for me, which means a lot”Medjedovic is grateful for the impact Troicki has had on his game
“Our main emphasis during the offseason will be to make him physically ready, so that he can endure tough matches day in, day out. Also, we will work on keeping his cool in the key moments.
“Tennis-wise, I don’t see a lot of weaknesses in his game, but we would like to improve
his rally tolerance – I don’t want him to rush, I want him to wait for the right opportunity to use the immense power on his shots.”
medjedovic credits the influence of troicki in his camp
Both Medjedovic and Troicki are temperamental, things can get heated, but Hamad ultimately enjoys having around someone who has been in the same situations as him before. Troicki won three ATP titles, played five times in the fourth round of Slams and collected ten Top 10 wins during his career.
“Viktor is a fantastic coach – both on and off the court, we talk a lot and he is always there for me, which means a lot,” stated Medjedovic.
“He is very direct in communication, yes, not beating around the bushes (laughing) – always tells me the truth whether I like it or not, which I respect and appreciate.”
Winning the title in Jeddah will mean a lot for Medjedovic’s confidence, particularly at the start of 2024. Apart from the physical improvements and consistency game-wise, Hamad needs more experience playing big matches. Even though the duo are not setting any goals ranking-wise, Troicki believes that Medjedovic can reach the top 50, perhaps even higher.
“The game is there, but he needs maturity so that he can challenge the best and win against them consistently,” said Troicki.
training with djokovic in dubai next up for medjedovc
After a few days of rest, the mission for next season starts in Dubai. Medjedovic was
invited by Novak Djokovic to practice together, before they fly to Australia to represent Serbia together at the United Cup in Perth.
“I am sure that the time spent with Novak will mean a lot to Hamad,” continued Troicki.
Djokovic will play singles at the United Cup with Hamad being the backup, so the first
tournament for Medjedovic is expected to be the Australian Open, where he is seeking to play in the main draw for the first time.
“I can’t wait for the next season to start,” concluded Medjedovic.