AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2014
Dzumhur Has Djokovic Backing On Melbourne Exit
by Kate Flory|
Damir Dzumhur’s historic Australian Open campaign may have ended in defeat to Tomas Berdych in Friday’s third round at Melbourne Park, but the Bosnian has made himself plenty of fans, not least World No. 2 Novak Djokovic.
“Just after the match I talked to Novak,” revealed Dzumhur. “He just said, ‘Congratulations. Definitely you will have these matches more and more.’ I think in the future I will definitely play better in these matches. I just need more of them to get used to it. Then it will be easier to play them.
“He’s one of the best ever players in the history of tennis. His words mean a lot to me. It’s nice that a player like him said nice things to me. I’m definitely proud of that.”
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Djokovic may have believed he was talking to Dzumhur for the first time, but the Bosnian recalled an initial meeting five years ago at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, where Djokovic was practising and he was playing a junior tournament. It was an experience that left its mark.
“I met him when I was really young, but I don’t think he remembered!” said Dzumhur. “I was just 16. I remember it very well! I know his brothers very well, so we just spoke about tennis a little bit. He didn’t see me playing, so he couldn’t say anything about that. But now he said that he hopes he will play against me and he will see me in the big tournaments again. I hope I will use all this and work hard to get that nice future.”
The 21-year-old Dzumhur made history this week as he became the first Bosnian to play at a Grand Slam after qualifying into the main draw. He was followed every step of the way by a legion of Bosnian supporters, but his following does not stop there.
“Some of the newspapers and TV stations just called me after the match,” said Dzumhur. “They were unbelievably surprised with my game. They said that the whole of Bosnia didn’t sleep tonight. Everybody was in front of the TV, watching Eurosport, and they were just so proud. They said that this is such a success. Nobody did it before and they don’t know if anyone will repeat it. They hope that I will do it again.
“I’m really glad that I’m a Bosnian. I hope I will come here again and to other Grand Slams and big tournaments to represent Bosnia, because the whole country deserves it and we need sports success. Now they expect me to be a good player and I hope I will make them happy.”
Currently World No. 188 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, Dzumhur hopes to use the experience of facing a Top 10 player on Hisense Arena as he pushes towards the Top 100. He could start as early as next week at the Heilbronn Challenger, if he makes the cut.
“I definitely learned how it is to be at a high level in tennis,” he said. “I know what my good things are and what I need to work on. I know something I really need to work on and that’s my serve and I will try. I was fighting a lot today, but that just isn’t enough with these players.
“My target at the end of the year is to be Top 100. Of course, if I continue to play like this, it will happen. That’s what Novak told me. He said, ‘If you continue to play like this, at this level at the smaller tournaments and Challengers, then definitely you are going. Because now you know you have such a good game to be at a high level.’ I will keep his words in my mind and try to make it like that.”