Novak Djokovic: 2013 Australian Open Champion
2013 Australian Open Tennis Champion
After winning his third consecutive Australian Open Tennis Title, it’s clear that Novak Djokovic is the best tennis player in the world at the moment. Having won his sixth Grand Slam title at just 25 years of age has put Djokovic on track to be not only the greatest player of his era but also one of the greatest to ever play the game.
For his four set victory over Britain’s Andy Murray in the Australian Open final, Novak Djokovic has been selected as the Athlete of the Month for January, 2013.
Djokovic’s journey to the pinnacle of the tennis world began back in 1991 when the four year old Novak first began to play tennis in his native Yugoslavia (now Serbia). By the age of six he was already showing great promise when he was spotted by tennis coaching legend Jelena Gencic. The young Djokovic began to train with Gencic and his game quickly flourished.
For the next six years the pair worked to hone the young Djokovic’s game and by the age of twelve it was clear that he needed stiffer competition to continue his improvement. And so in 1999, the Djokovic family made the decision to move Novak to Munich, Germany to train at the Pilic Tennis Academy with renowned tennis coach Nikola Pilic. Within a few years Novak was competing internationally and in 2001 he reached the finals of the Junior Davis Cup for players under the age of 14.
By 2003 Djokovic's game had reached the level where he was good enough to turn professional and he started playing in Futures tournaments, a circuit that enabled young professionals the chance to play while improving their game and ranking .
In 2005 he made his first Grand Slam tournament appearance in the Australian Open but lost in the first round to the eventual champion, Martin Safin. He fared much better later in the year at Wimbledon and the US Open where he reached the third round before losing. By now it was clear that Novak was about to embark on a meteoric climb that would eventually take him to the top of the sport.
The year 2006 saw continued improvement in Djokovic’s game and by any measure he had a pretty good season. He reached the quarterfinal round of the French Open (his best performance in a grand slam to date) and the fourth round of Wimbledon. He also won his first ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) title at the Dutch Open and his impressive results vaulted him into the top twenty rankings in the world for the first time.
Djokovic’s break out year certainly had to be 2007 when he reached his first Grand Slam final at the US Open before losing to Roger Federer. But, it was his performance in the Rogers Cup in Montreal that showed his true potential to be one of the best of his era when he defeated Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer, the top three ranked players in the world at the time to win the title. It was the first time in over twenty years that a player had beaten the world’s top three players in the same tournament.
Clearly it was only a matter of time before Djokovic would win a Grand Slam title and in 2008 he finally broke through winning the Australian Open. Since then he has gone on to win a total of six Grand Slam titles including four Australian Open titles, one Wimbledon title and one US Open title.
His three consecutive Australian Open titles is an open era record and in 2011 he won three of the four Grand Slam titles becoming only the sixth player to accomplish this feat. In the process he has ascended to the top of the tennis world and has claimed the number one ranking in the world during parts of 2011, 2012, and he currently holds the top ranked position.
Off the court Djokovic continued his winning ways with the creation of the Novak Djokovic Foundation in 2007. Named as the UNICEF ambassador to his home country of Serbia, Djokovic is working with his Foundation and UNICEF to improve the educational system in Serbia.
Coming from a war torn country, Djokovic has recognized the need to help rebuild the educational system in Serbia in order to give underprivileged youths a chance to realize their dreams. His goal is to use the attention that his tennis career has generated to help drive his foundation to improve the lives and opportunities of as many kids as possible.
For someone so young to have achieved so much so soon is a testament to the hard work and drive that embodies Novak Djokovic. As he is just entering the prime of his tennis playing days, it is hard not to envision Novak remaining at the top of the sport for years to come. I’m sure that there are many more records yet to be broken and many more Grand Slam titles to be won by Novak Djokovic.
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© 2013 Bill De Giulio