Inspired By Djokovic, Coached By Troicki, Medjedovic Aiming To Be Next Serbian Star
Covering a total area of 34,170 sq miles, Serbia is the 111th largest county in the world. While it may not be the biggest in size, it is a nation that has produced world-class tennis players throughout the years. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is the clear example, with now-retired Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki climbing as high as No. 8 and No. 12, respectively, in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
Aiming to follow in their footsteps is 20-year-old Hamad Medjedovic, who will compete at the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM in Jeddah next week.
“It was a big thing for sure growing up, having so many good players in our country,” Medjedovic told ATPTour.com when discussing his early influences. “I remember starting to watch tennis when I was a kid. We had Novak [Djokovic], Viktor [Troicki] and Janko [Tipsarevic] and they were so good.
“I remember watching them constantly. As a kid it gave me a lot of motivation to start playing tennis and then to become one of them because I saw that they could do it. They’re coming from a small country, same as me, and it gave me a lot of motivation and self-belief that I could do it as well.”
Djokovic captured a record seventh Nitto ATP Finals crown on Sunday to clinch his 71st ‘Big Title’, which is a combination of Grand Slam championships, trophies at the Nitto ATP Finals, ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, and Olympic singles gold medals.
At the top of the game for more than 15 years now, the 36-year-old has provided consistent inspiration and support for Medjedovic, who recalls the first time he met the 24-time Grand Slam champion.
“I remember meeting him when I was 10 I think and it was my birthday,” Medjedovic said. “I was in Belgrade and the former Davis Cup captain [Bogdan Obradovic] was working at his academy. I was practising there and he took me to the Novak Centre. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I remember Novak coming and we met there for the first time.
“It was the first time I had seen him in person and I got to talk to him. We just had a couple of words exchanged, and I think at the time it was the biggest thing of my life that happened. I had watched him on TV and now all of a sudden I got to talk to him a little bit. It was a great opportunity.”
Medjedovic has since risen through the Serbian ranks, regularly training with his countrymen. He is grateful for their constant support and revealed their success has been a great source of inspiration.
“I’ve known them for a couple of years already the guys. Even when I wasn’t on the Tour, when I was playing juniors, I was good as a junior, so I practised many times with Dusan [Lajovic], Laslo [Djere], Filip [Krajinovic], Miomir [Kecmanovic] and Noel,” Medjedovic said. “I was talking with them when we were hitting and they were giving me so many things that I could work on. When you have guys like this talking to you and giving you advice for your career, it has had a big impact.
“It motivates me and I’m looking at it from a positive side. I hear so many compliments and some of the guys are saying that I’m the future of our tennis. It gives me motivation and the fuel to be even better.”
Medjedovic continues to make full use of his Serbian network, having joined forces with three-time tour-level champion Troicki at the start of the season. Coach Troicki has helped Medjedovic rise to No. 102 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, win three ATP Challenger Tour titles and reach tour-level semi-finals in Gstaad and Astana.
“Viktor was working at the Novak Centre. He was a head coach there and was supervising me,” Medjedovic said when discussing the pair’s relationship. “He was a mentor and then at the start of 2023 he became my coach full time. He’s giving me a lot of really good advice and he’s helping me every day.
“The season together has been good. The first four or three months I was struggling a little bit. It took time to start doing what we were working on during pre-season. After a couple of months, it all clicked. I played well in India in February. I made my first semis after a long time and then everything started going better. I also played in the semi-finals in Gstaad. It was a big thing for me, beating a couple of players from the Top 100.”
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The 20-year-old will now aim to finish the year strongly at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah, where he will compete alongside Arthur Fils, Dominic Stricker, Luca Van Assche, Flavio Cobolli, Alex Michelsen, Luca Nardi and Abdullah Shelbayh.
Medjedovic is excited to play at an event that has crowned Stefanos Tsitsipas, Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz as champions. He also gave fans insight into what they should expect to see from him on court in Saudi Arabia.
“Knowing that you’re in the Top 8 in the world of 21 and under players, it’s a big thing by itself. Also just knowing that basically whoever played it before is a good player now,” Medjedovic said.
“I find myself as a very aggressive player on the court. I try to dictate that. I see myself as a good server. I’m not going to be talking so many good things about myself, but I think I have a great serve, a great forehand, and my style of game is that I’m aggressive on the court.”