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How Novak Djokovic took care of all the financial costs of Serbian youngster Hamad Medjedovic’s career

In his endeavor to help Serbian and ex-Yugoslavian tennis grow, Novak Djokovic for a lot of them has made available top conditions at his Novak Tennis Center, but also helped individuals to boost their careers, like in the case of Hamad Medjedovic, 19-year-old whose father spoke openly about the ways Djokovic has helped his son.

Mehmet Medjedovic and Novak Djokovic, 2022 Mehmet Medjedovic and Novak Djokovic, 2022 | © Panoramic

“Would you believe who was the first to congratulate me on my title – Novak (Djokovic)!”, Hamad Medjedovic told Serbian outlet Sportal, having just won his first Challenger trophy in Lüdenscheid.

“When I picked up my phone, I saw his voice message lasting more than one minute. He is a legend because he is always available for advice – he really wants to help and knows how to listen.”

Later on that day, Novak Djokovic was due to play Tim van Rijthoven in the fourth round of Wimbledon. It was an exhausting match – mentally more than physically – but Djokovic came out on top.

Djokovic : “Phenomenal”

Whenever Djokovic gets the opportunity to talk about some of the young players he has been mentoring, his eyes glow. Never mind that he was chasing his seventh Wimbledon title and that he had a lot of media commitments afterwards, he still spoke at length when asked about Medjedovic’s success.

“It was phenomenal – winning his first Challenger title coming from qualies is a huge result and I congratulated him”, Djokovic said visibly pleased.

Hamad Medjedov, Challenger Belgrade 2021
Hamad Medjedov, lors du Challenger de Belgrade en 2021 (Imago / Panoramic)

“His jump in the rankings (Medjedovic is currently number 259 in the world) will mean a lot for the future. I have a lot of friends who are sort of stuck in that second tier of tennis – between Futures and 250s – it is hard to break through, but Hamad is now close to playing qualifiers for Grand Slam tournaments.”

Medjedovic, aged 19, has been talked about as a hot prospect in Serbia since his early teens and he achieved a combined ranking of number 9 in juniors – at Roland Garros 2020, he defeated the first seed Harold Mayot from France. Still, breakthrough at a professional level is a different animal all-together, which Hamad quickly became aware of.

Born in 2003 in Novi Pazar, cultural center of the Bosniaks in Serbia, Medjedovic had various problems last season, not least being catching a hard Covid, which left him unable to practice for three months as he lost 10 kilograms in the process.

Still, Djokovic and Novak Tennis Center took him under their wings, which was a great starting point. As his father Eldin Medjedovic told Sportal, Novak is making an effort with Hamad in every way – financially, mentally and socially.

What kind of man would I be if I would not help the kinds that deserve it, that love tennis ?

Novak Djokovic

“I remember the second conversation I had with Novak ever, we spoke about specific steps in Hamad’s career. Novak was presenting me with ideas, what to do with Hamad’s game, and I remember telling him: ‘Nole, I am sorry, but the things you are talking about cost a lot of money!’ And he just keeps going about coaches, what are we going to do and how, and then says: ‘All Hamad needs to do is to work hard, I will take care of the rest’. I told him again: ‘Nole, it costs a lot.'”

Eldin Medjedovic pinching himself

Eldin remembers pinching himself during the conversation, just to make sure that it was really happening.

“At that point, Novak told me: ‘Edo, I am not doing this for the money! I make my money elsewhere, my role here is to help. What kind of man would I be if I would not help the kinds that deserve it, that love tennis and – on top of that – achieve good results?’ I just stand there and he adds: ‘You know what we are going to do? One day, when Hamad makes it, you are going to take someone under your wings and help in the same way.'”

Hamad (Medjedovic) deserved this success with the work he has been putting in during the last year and a half.

Novak Djokovic

For a year and a half now, Medjedovic has been working with Ilija Bozoljac, former number101 well-known for his powerful serve; he once hit 245 km/h. Had it been for more guidance and better logistics, Bozoljac could have achieved a lot more in his career – he did almost take Federer to five sets at Wimbledon 2010, and he was the doubles Davis Cup hero for Serbia in 2013, when himself and Nenad Zimonjić defeated Bob and Mike Bryan 15-13 in the fifth set.

Medjedovic now has it – the guidance and the logistics – and slowly, but surely, things are falling into place. Although Hamad joked that he felt like it was easier to win a Grand Slam title rather than a Futures title, he already has three Futures trophies to his name this year (twice in Antalya and once in Ulcinj).

Medjedovic defeated Cecchinato and Jarry

But the biggest moment of his professional career so far has come in aforementioned Lüdenscheid. Coming from qualifiers, he soared through the draw beating Vitaly Sachko, Filip Horansky, former world number 16 Marko Cecchinato (6-1 6-1!), first-seeded Nicolas Jarry, former world number 38, and finally Zhang Zhizhen in the finals.

“He deserved this success with the work he has been putting in during the last year and a half”, Djokovic told Serbian reporters at Wimbledon.

Novak Djokovic
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic after practice (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

“Hamad’s work ethic has improved a lot – he has changed his diet, the way he practices and recovers, approach to practice and the game itself. And just like we have been telling him – the results will come if he stays patient, devoted and really wants it. He has transformed himself recently and I really feel that physically and game-wise he should be able to enter the top 100 soon. Simply, everyone has to go through certain steps, and Hamad is guided by a team of experts. So far, so good!”

Thank God, there are still people who don’t care only about money, but about the human side of things.

Hamad Medjedvic’s father

Hamad’s father said that last season Djokovic paid for Medjedovic’s coaches, hotels, plane tickets, physiotherapists, preparations…

“We did not spend a dime, and believe me, that is not a small amount in the world of tennis, on the contrary. Imagine, the best player in the world is calling my kid to work together in the preseason, it is like Messi or Ronaldo telling you: ‘Let’s play some football’ or ‘Let me know if you need anything’. These kinds of things are rare in today’s world, but thank God, there are still people who don’t care only about money, but about the human side of things.”

Helping Danilovic and other Serbian players

During Australian Open 2021, Djokovic was seen in the box of Olga Danilović, another young Serbian player, and his coach Goran Ivanisevic watched Danilovic’s matches at Roland-Garros this year. When he spends time in Belgrade, he practices in Novak Tennis Center, but is also a mentor and talks to a lot of players there. In December 2020, Djokovic organized a mini-camp for the players at his Center.

Olga Danilovic, Novak Djokovic, Belgrade 2020
Olga Danilovic et Novak Djokovic, à Belgrade en 2020 (AI / Reuters / Panoramic)

As for Hamad, he was a bit nervous about working with Djokovic, but as the two have gotten to know each other better, the tension quickly went away.

“The best in the world is inviting to do a preseason together, of course Hamad felt bit of a pressure, a bit of jitters“, Eldin Medjedovic said, „But Novak knew how to approach him, to relax him a bit: ‘What’s up, Medo (Medjedovic’s nickname)?’. Then he hugs him and suggests they play basketball. These little things matter.”

Medjedovic has vastly improved his serve and his backhand – although he plays a two-handed backhand, some of the players told him that his game-style resembles Dominic Thiem’s.

With a 21-time Grand Slam champion in his ear, Medjedovic has a better chance to fulfill his dreams. Him, and the rest of youngsters in Novak Tennis Center. 

Your comments

One response to “How Novak Djokovic took care of all the financial costs of Serbian youngster Hamad Medjedovic’s career

  1. Djokovic is an exceptional human being, like most
    Serbians, kind, generous and always willing to help.
    As a tennis player again a true Serbian, stubborn, never give up,fair player and a leader.
    Very proud of Our Nole, God Bless You Nole!!!!

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