Two years after her death Novak Djokovic still attributes his success to Jelena Gencic - UBITENNIS
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Two years after her death Novak Djokovic still attributes his success to Jelena Gencic

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Novak Djokovic pictured with his first coach Jelena Gencic (image via kurir.rs)

Closing out the season as world No.1 with the prospect of claiming his 11th title of 2015 at the ATP Finals next week, Novak Djokovic has spoken about the woman who started it all for him.

 

Jelena Gencic was a former handball and tennis player who claimed a bronze medal at the 1957 World Handball Championships. After her sporting career, Gencic embarked on a successful career as a tennis coach, mentoring the biggest stars in Yugoslavia. These included Monica Seles, Goran Ivanisevic, Iva Majoli and Djokovic.

In 1993 Gencic was running a summer camp in Kopaonik, Serbia where she spotted a young Djokovic gazing at the camp. She approached Djokovic and invited him to join the camp, starting what turned out to be one of the most impressive tennis careers in the modern era of the game. Gencic immediately spotted Djokovic’s talent, telling his parents after his first three days of playing tennis that they have ‘a golden child’. The bond formed between the two continued until Gencic’s death in 2013. Shortly after her death, the world No.1 pledged to continue her legacy.

“Jelena was my first coach, like my second mother,” Djokovic said.
“We were very close throughout my whole life and she taught me a lot of things that are part of me, part of my character today. Hopefully I will be able to continue with her legacy, because she left so much knowledge to me, to the people that were close to her”.

Two years since the passing of his first coach, Djokovic still attributes his strong mental strength, which has been praised throughout 2015, to what he what taught be Gencic. During a recent interview with Sports Magazine, the world No.1 cites his rigorous routine of a gluten-free diet as well as an Eastern philosophical approach to the game to what he learnt from his first coach.

“She was also very analytical. Every exercise or drill that we did on the court had its purpose. She taught me to always be prepared for practice, to warm up properly, to recover and stretch. She had this holistic approach, so it’s a mindset I’ve also had since I was seven years old.” The world No.1 said.

Djokovic also talked about his current coach Boris Becker, who he has worked with since 2013. The success of working with Becker has paid off this year with the Serbian currently on a 2015 win-loss of 73-5. Despite being on his own on the court when he plays in tournaments, the Serbian empathized to Sports Magazine that he still works in  a team sport environment.

“We still keep this strong link between ourselves because, at the end of the day, it’s a team sport as well. When I’m alone on the court, of course I have to do the job myself. But I have this small corner where my team is sitting. Sometimes it’s sufficient for me just to look at them and make eye contact with Boris [Becker] or Marian [Vajda, another coach] – that’s enough for me to know that I’m not alone.”

Djokovic will be bidding to win the ATP Finals for the fourth consecutive year. If he is successful, he will become the first player in history to win the title four times in a row.

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Victorian Premier: Unvaccinated Players Likely To Be Refused Visas To Play Australian Open

The government official has issued a warning ahead of the Grand Slam but one player say they have been told something different…

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photo by atpworldtour.com

The head of the Victorian Government has said there is a good chance that any player who is unvaccinated will be refused entry into Australia next year and be excluded from the Australian Open.

 

Daniel Andrews has insisted that no deals will be cut with the players where they could receive special treatment in order for them to enter the region. Recently local officials implemented a health mandate in Victoria requiring essential workers to be vaccinated, including professional athletes. The move has prompted speculation over the implications that will have on the upcoming Australian Open which will get underway in January.

Andrews, who has been the Premier of Victoria since 2014, will not be the person who has the final say as to if unvaccinated players will be allowed to enter the country. That will be decided by the national government. However, in a press conference on Tuesday he cast serious doubt over their chances.

“I don’t think an unvaccinated tennis player is going to get a visa to come into this country,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“If they did get a visa, they’d probably have to quarantine for a couple of weeks when no other players will have to.
“AFL players have to be vaccinated, but they’re Aussies, they’re not coming from other countries.
“I don’t think any other tennis player, or golfer, or Formula One driver, will even get a visa to get here.
“Professional sport is part of that authorised worker list and they have to be double dose vaccinated.”

The warning comes less than 24 hours after Blic newspaper published an interview with world No.1 Novak Djokovic who admits he is unsure about playing at the tennis major. Djokovic declined to reveal his vaccination status and has accused the media of causing a divide between vaccinated and unvaccinated people. He has won the Australian Open men‘s title a record nine times.

“I won’t disclose whether I am vaccinated or not. It is a private matter, I think it is inappropriate to ask a person that. Too many people allow themselves the freedom to ask and then to judge. Whatever you say – I have, I have not, maybe, I do not know or I am thinking about it – they will use it against you,” he said.

Tennis Australia has not commented on Andrews’ statement and it is unclear as to when a final decision will be made. Although Djokovic believes a final decision could come in two weeks time.

Meanwhile, Andrey Rublev has contradicted what Andrews has said during a press conference in Moscow. Speaking to reporters the Russian says it is his understanding that unvaccinated players will be allowed to play the Australian Open but they will be forced to enter into a 14-day quarantine. Meaning they will miss tournaments such as the ATP Cup leading up to the Grand Slam.

“If athletes do not want to stay in quarantine for two weeks, then they must be vaccinated. As far as I know, Australians recognize many vaccines. If you do not get vaccinated, then you will not be able to leave the room for two weeks. Then you won’t be able to play either the ATP Cup or the tournaments before the Australian Open.” Said Rublev.

Besides the players, local fans attending the Australian Open could also be refused entry if they are unvaccinated and their freedoms won’t be relaxed until ‘well into 2022.’ Andrews said he doubts crowds at the Australian Grand Prix, which takes place three months after the Melbourne major, will not include those are are not double jabbed.

“Why would you get the system going, have the thing up and running and then essentially pull down all of the architecture that you’ve built, the culture that you’ve changed – why would you change that four or five weeks later?” He said.
“For example, the Grand Prix is in April, I don’t think there will be crowds at the Grand Prix made up of people who have not been double dosed.”

The Australian Open is set to get underway on January 17th.

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Novak Djokovic Undecided Over Playing Australian Open, Slams Speculation Over His Vaccination Status

The tennis star says he is ‘irritated’ by some players’ passive attitude to the potential conditions related to the next Grand Slam and has accused the media of spreading fear related to the COVID-19 vaccination.

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Novak Djokovic during a Men's Singles championship match at the 2021 US Open, Sunday, Sep. 12, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Andrew Ong/USTA)

World No.1 Novak Djokovic says he has concerns over potential rules which may be implemented on players travelling to the Australian Open next year and is not ruling out the possibility of not attending the Grand Slam altogether. 

 

Djokovic, who has won the Melbourne major more times than any other male player in history, has accused some of his peers of not being interested enough in the topic and just accepting any conditions which may be implemented. In an interview with Blic newspaper, the Serbian said he is ‘irritated’ with what he brands as disinterest among players and believes there needs to be more unity on the Tour. 

“I am following the situation around Australia and as far as I understand, the final decision of the Government of Australia and Tennis Australia will be in two weeks, so it is the first or second week of November,” said Djokovic.

“I do not believe that the conditions will change much in relation to what we already know. As was the case this year, there will be plenty of restrictions. What I heard from my manager who is in direct contact with people from the Federation of Australia is that they are trying to improve conditions for everyone. Both for those who have been vaccinated and for those who have not been.”

One of the most worrying issues for the 20-time Grand Slam champion is the prospect of having to be isolated upon arrival in Australia if somebody on his flight tests positive for COVID-19. At this year’s Australian Open dozens of players have to spend 14 days in quarantine after coming in contact with a positive case. Should such rules be implemented again next year, he faces a dilemma of whether to risk going or not. 

“Put a professional athlete in that kind of quarantine so he can’t get out of the room, and then expect him to play on some level, really … Not to mention the increased risk of injury, of which there were many, including me at this year’s Australian Open. If such conditions remain, I think that many players will think very well whether they will go or not.” Djokovic commented. 

Frustration over vaccination obsession 

Novak Djokovic at the 2021 US Open (Garrett Ellwood/USTA)

One of the most uncertain aspects relates to the fate of unvaccinated players wanting to play at the tournament. Recently the Victorian government issued a health mandate requiring essential workers, including athletes, to be vaccinated. Sports minister Martin Pakula recently told the Sports Entertainment Network that he is unsure if unvaccinated players will even be allowed in the country. That decision will be made by the national government who will likely implement extra restrictions on those players should they get the green light. 

Djokovic, who tested positive for COVID-19 in 2020, has previously said he disagreed with the concept of being forced to have a vaccination but has dismissed suggestions that he is an anti-vaxxer. Pressed by Blic about his current vaccination status, he refused to reveal it and instead hit out at the media for their obsession with it.

“Considering all that, I still do not know whether I will play in Melbourne,” he said. “There is excessive speculation, from the media as well, which bothers me a lot. I have not spoken too much (on vaccination) because everyone was making assumptions based on something I have said a year ago,” he argues.

“Not only in sports, but in the world in general, I am disappointed with the discord being made between the vaccinated and unvaccinated people. If we discriminate against someone because a person wants to make a decision for themselves, whether they want to get vaccinated or not, I think that is horrible… Media is putting pressure on a lot of people. At this moment, there are too many things that are not clear, too much information that is not valid, and then they turn out to be valid, then they are not again. Everything is changing.”

The 34-year-old has also accused the media of ‘spreading fear and panic’ and he does not want to be part of the ‘storm.’ Branding their attitude to the subject as ‘unfriendly.’  

“I have my own stance,” he said. “I won’t disclose whether I am vaccinated or not. It is a private matter, I think it is inappropriate to ask a person that. Too many people allow themselves the freedom to ask and then to judge. Whatever you say – I have, I have not, maybe, I do not know or I am thinking about it – they will use it against you.

“I think the media is spreading fear and panic and I do not want to take part in driving people against each other. I feel that the general media attitude is unfriendly so I do not want to give anyone the reason to write about me. Your editors can take what I have just said and turn it into a scandal. I do not want to be a part of that storm.”

Whilst Djokovic’s Australian Open presence is in doubt, there is clarity concerning his plans for the rest of this year. After taking a break following his loss in the final of the US Open to Daniil Medvedev, he is set to return to competition at the Paris Masters which will start on November 1st. He will also play the ATP Finals in Turin followed by the Davis Cup. 

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Lost Shoes Fails To Stop Cameron Norrie From Becoming First Brit To Win Indian Wells

Heading into the biggest final of his career, the Brit and his team launched a search party to find the missing pairs of shoes.

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Image via https://twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN

Cameron Norrie has capped off his breakthrough run at the BNP Paribas Open by fighting back from a set down to win his first Masters 1000 title at the age of 26.

 

Norrie, who had never won a main draw match at the tournament until this year, beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, to become the first ever player from Britain to win the tournament. Going one step further than Andy Murray, Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski who have all settled for runner-up in the past. In the final Norrie broke his opponent five times and hit 10 winners past him. It is the second time this year he has beaten Basilashvili on the Tour following their meeting in Rotterdam.

“What an incredible week I’ve had here,” said Norrie. “It was just a strange match. It was over quite quickly, and then the last kind of set I was expecting it to be longer. He made a couple errors towards the end.’
“I still don’t really know what I’m experiencing. It was an amazing couple weeks and I’m so happy with how I treated all the occasions, all the big moments, all the matches. I’m so happy, so pleased to win my biggest title.”

The triumph occurs during what has been a breakthrough season for the 26-year-old who is a former No.1 American collegiate player. Indian Wells was his sixth Tour final of 2021 and he has now won 47 matches. The only other player to reach six finals this year on the men’s Tour is Novak Djokovic.

Heading into the title match in Indian Wells, Norrie encountered a peculiar setback to his preparations after three pairs of his shoes went missing. Something which also happened to compatriot Andy Murray during the tournament.

“Every day I left my shoes on top of the locker. I think someone, I don’t know who it was, maybe someone from the cleaners or something last night, came through and they threw the three pairs of shoes that I had away,” he said.
“I looked all day. I had everyone looking. I don’t know what the people have against the Brits with stealing the shoes, but I didn’t manage to get them back.
“Yeah, it was just difficult. Luckily, I didn’t have a wedding ring attached [unlike Murray],” he added.

Norrie admitted the incident did partly distract him during what was the biggest final of his career because the new shoes ‘felt a bit heavy.’

“A couple times I was just thinking about it, probably not the best thing. You don’t want to be thinking about your shoes. At one point I said, All right, these are the shoes I got, I’m just going to focus on what I can control right now. I wore them in a little bit, and it came good in the end.”

Looking ahead to the coming weeks, Norrie is now in with a shot of qualifying for the year-end ATP Finals in Turin. He has moved to tenth in the race with 2830 points. Although one of those players ahead of him, Rafael Nadal, will not be playing in the event due to injury. This time last year Norrie was ranked outside the top 50.

“I’m playing Vienna, Paris, and Stockholm, the last three events indoors. It would be nice to make it (to the ATP Finals), but I’m going to keep going, keep taking care of what I can and handling what I can. We’ll see how it goes,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to the indoor season. I really like the courts. I’ve never really made a deep run in one of those tournaments, but I always play well. I always lose tight matches. Hopefully those can swing in my favor this year.”

Norrie has made his top 20 debut this week and is currently ranked 15th in the world.

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