Djokovic’s Childhood Friend Obradovic Meets NCAA Champ In Semis

Written by: on 17th September 2011
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Djokovic's Childhood Friend Obradovic Meets NCAA Champ In Semis   |

DJOKOVIC’S CHILDHOOD FRIEND OBRADOVIC MEETS NCAA CHAMP IN SEMIS AT 16th ANNUAL POMONA VALLEY HOSPITAL MEDICAL CENTER USTA PRO CLASSIC

Vladimir Obradovic can still recall a 12-year-old Novak Djokovic hitting tennis ball after tennis ball sometimes five hours a day at the bottom of a drained Olympic-sized swimming pool in war-torn Belgrade, Serbia, which was bombed for 78 days in 1999 by a U.S.-led NATO coalition.

Despite the war and uncertainty of the times, Obradovic says Djokovic never lost sight of his ultimate goal of some day being the world’s best player.

“He was always so talented and so focused,” said Obradovic, who on Friday advanced to the semifinals in singles at the 16th annual Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center USTA $10,000 Pro Classic being played at the Claremont Club. “Later on, he won the European juniors at age 14 and then the 16s. We always knew he was talented and good. But no one could have imagined the season he’s just had. It’s really amazing.”

Obradovic, who later in the day fell in the doubles final, beat Rudolph Siwy of the Czech Republic in three sets and will next play NCAA champion Steve Johnson of USC in the semifinals on Saturday at 10 a.m.

The Partizan Tennis Club in Belgrade was the hub of tennis in Serbia – which is about as large as the size of Maine — and produced pro players such as Janko Tipsarević, Nenad Zimonjić and Ana Ivanovic, along with Obradovic and Djokovic.

Obradovic can remember Djokovic coming to the club as early as age six and when Obradovic was named to the Serbian Davis Cup team in 2001 at the age of 20, Djokovic was a practice partner at age 15 the same year. “No one minded (Novak) hanging around the older guys,” Obradovic said. “We would always tell him things like about his racquets or his strings and he would always listen to us.”

In a May 23, 2011 Sports Illustrated story, Djokovic spoke to reporter Scott Price about returning to the Partizan Tennis Club, a place he hadn’t been back to in seven years.

“You can’t imagine,” Djokovic said. “I have spent my good and my bad times in this club. I watched planes go over our heads, I celebrated my birthdays here, I cried, I laughed, I had the joy, I had sorrow—all the things you can experience as a human, I had here. Coming back, it’s just overwhelming. It’s too good to be true.”

After he won the recent US Open, Djokovic recalled his childhood growing up and thanked guys from his hometown like Obradovic who helped mentor him so many years ago.

“I go back in my thoughts in my childhood, all these memories growing up, playing tennis, spending time in Serbia experiencing a lot of different kinds of situations and experiences in the life,” Djokovic told the media. “That helped actually to become a better person, to appreciate things in life more. My parents …  and a couple of other people that have always been there for me. This is individual sport, but it’s not an effort of myself. I may be on the court by myself winning or losing, I maybe take the whole credit or all the blame, but it’s actually the team, the family, the support, everybody around you that spends their energy as well.”

Obradovic, who was the second-oldest player in the 32-man Claremont singles field at age 30, went on to play at the University of Florida from age 21 to 26 and ended up with a master’s degree in business.

He went out on tour in 2007 and got to as high as 300 in the world in singles and top 100 in doubles.

Injuries have sidelined him for the past two years but he is once again healthy and ready to return to the upper echelon of professional tennis.

“We are all very proud of him,” Obradovic said of Djokovic. “He’s just such a great player and champion. I texted him after he won the Open and just told him how proud I was of him.

“He has so much charisma and has such a great personality and has really helped our country, actually. He’s helped clean up the image of Serbia, the way we are viewed.”

In the other semifinal match to follow Obradovic-Johnson, Darian King will face former Florida star Alexandre Lacroix.

Friday’s Quarterfinal Results

Singles

Vladimir Obradovic, Serbia, (4) def. Rudolph Siwy, Czech Republic (6), 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-4

Steve Johnson, U.S. (1), def. Timothy Kpulun, Sierra Leone (q), def. 6-2, 6-0

Darian King, Barbados, def. Bassam Beidas, Lebanon (2), 2-6, 6-4, 6-4

Alexandre Lacroix, France (q), def. Dennis Novikov, U.S., 6-3, 6-4

Doubles Final

Alexandre Lacroix, France, def. Sanam Singh, India (4), def. Vladimir Obradovic, Serbia-Vignesh Peranamallur, India, 6-3, 6-1

For more information, check on the web at:www.procircuit.usta.com, www.claremontclub.com; Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/The-Claremont-Club/236147226396

Recent Claremont Champions

Year            Singles Winner            Singles Runner-up            Doubles Champions

2010            Gary Sacks            Devin Britton            Taylor Fogleman-Chris Kearney

2009            Matej Bocko            Bradley Klahn            Brett Joelson-Ashwin Kumar

2008            Tigran Martirosyan            Adriano Biasello            Marcus Fugate-Nima Roshan

2007            Carsten Ball            Robert Yim            Nikita Kryvonos-Michael McClune

2006            Dudi Sela            Sascha Kloer            Ryler DeHeart-Dennis Zivkovic

2005            Benedikt Dorsch            Tyler Cleveland            K.C. Corkery-James Pade

2004            Bobby Reynolds            Huntley Montgomery            Nick Rainey-Brian Wilson

2003            Glenn Weiner            Jimy Szymanski            K.C. Corkery-James Pade

2002            Dmitry Tursunov               Raven Klaasen            Chris Magyary-Mirko Pehar

Points, Prize Money for $10,000 Futures Tournaments

Singles                                    Doubles

Points                        Prize $                        Points                        Prize $

Winner                                    17                        $1,300                        17                        $630

Finalist                                      9                           $900                          9                        $330

Semifinalist                          5                           $480                          5                        $260

Quarterfinalist                          2                           $290                          2                        $180

Round of 16                          1                           $200                          1                        ——

Round of 32                          0                           $117.50              -                           ——





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