The Djokovic Gencic Union

Serbian tennis coach Jelena Gencic discovered and nurtured the talents inside Novak Djokovic to become the King of Tennis. Gencic passed away in Serbia yesterday, as her protege is in the midst of attempting to win his first French Open title.

A poster at the tenniswarehouse.com forum translated the special meeting and interviews Djokovic and Gencic did together when he brought the Wimbledon trophy for her in Serbia…

I’ll do a quick translation of what they talked about. I am far from a tennis expert so I’ll just translate what they say, although I don’t understand some of the tennis jargon they use.

After the introductions and everything, when they have sit down, they started talking about the history of that racket that she showed him, Novak commenting how it’s still in good shape and than:

Novak: You know, I started using a lot of spin in my game

Jelena: and what does that mean?

Novak: it means that I have to straighten myself towards the “eastern return”

Jelena: That’s right, that’s exactly what I was teaching you. Also you need to end the points quicker.

Novak: Yeah, you are right. I started doing that this year, you must admit.

Jelena: You STILL need to do it more often and quicker, end the points quicker. Also, I need to ask you, why are your shots so short?

Novak: because of the spin sometimes, because I’m to defensive sometimes.

….they talk in english how Novak lost weight…

Novak: I was always thin but I’m strong Jelena.

Jelena: Well, if your ball ends up being short when you play spin that means that something is missing…

Novak (changing the subject): Do you remember what was the shot that you insisted we practice all the time and that I should use it as often as possible?

Jelena: Backhand slice parallel.

Novak: Yeah, that’s true, you did, but do you remember any other shot?

Jelena: Oh…and that shot…. short cross court….

Novak: short cross court angle

Jelena: You know how I call that shot? A Slap.

Novak: That’s right.

Jelena: And in the US Open, SF with Federer on match point, you made the ost incredible shot, the most incredible…

Novak: Well we did practice it all the time….

Jelena: Well that’s exactly what I mean!

Novak (pointing to the people around the room and cameras): They have no idea, the two of us used to practice that shot over and over again years ago.

….now they talk in english, novak just repeating that (If I knew that I wouldn’t translate it lol)…

Jelena: Although I did add an extra element to that shot, I made it go a bit extra further…

Novak: Yeah, that’s the modern, the new short cross court…

Jelena: Well, I was an innovator

now they talk in english again, she’s telling him that they should talk without cameras so she can tell him in which way will the tennis game further develop….

Jelena: Do you remember what I told what tennis game will be after agassi and sampras…we used to train not for what the game was at the time, but for what the game will be.

She also says how S&V is coming back in 5 years and he needs to be ready.

Novak: well in that case i need to work on my servis game, I didn’t know that was the case, if I knew I would be better prepared for what’s coming (meaning s&v tennis)

Novak: I’m mostly behind the baseline…

Jelena: But why?

Novak: Well that’s where I am…That’s where I feel comfortable.

Jelena: You need to move forward more.

Novak: I think that the combination of those two styles is the best.

Jelena: Yes, there’s no need to go to the net every time….Variety is the best…what’s happened to your serve? (looking at the cameras) no need to answer me now, don’t answer now…

Novak: YOu know the answer, you know what happened..

Jelena: ok, ok…

now the reporter asks a question

Reporter: Jelena, you were our guest a couple of months ago, in our studio you talked about what Novak was like as a young boy, showed us exclusive clips of him playing tennis when he was 5-6 years old and you also told us how you haven’t seen each other for a long time but you mentioned that you are not worried, that you know for certain that he has not forgotten you and that he will come visit you soon. How do u feel now, that you two have finally gotten together again?

Jelena: Well obviously I feel great, I felt great the moment I saw him in person again…and I’m looking forward to talking to him a bit later about tennis like we used to do all the time. There are a couple of new things, new developments in tennis and I know that Novak is to busy to properly bring new aspects of tennis to his already developed game…..with all the matches that he is playing…that’s hard work I know…when he won wimbledon he said “it took me 20 years of hard work to get here” and that’s true and that’s a good positive message to all up and coming players so they can know what it takes…and to al the coaches and parents to not demand instant success but to work hard and to know that they must work hard and long if they want to achieve something. There have been a lot of moments when one would rather go to the movies or relax or do something else but instead but if you want to be a tennis player you need to sacrifice all that and work hard on a tennis court. Is that right Novak?

Novak: That’s completely true. You always need to work hard. I was third in the world for the past 4 years, and I had so many doubts about myself..

Jelena: You did, really?

Novak: I did, I admit it, I did…I know that you didn’t doubt me but I did. I was unsure if I will be able to achieve what I wanted to achieve, but we did it all this year…and we are finally together again. And next time we see each other we are going on the tennis court and doing it all over again….Slice paralel, short cross court….we will train it all, over and over again…

Jelena: Yeah, and when you hit a great slice and move forward….they lift the ball and you can do whatever you want on the net…

Novak laughing: they dont do that anymore Jelena, they dont lift the ball in the air that much….these guys hit amazing passing shots….also to me volleys are like walking over a mine field…

Jelena: It was not like that when you were younger….

Novak: I know, I know

Jelena: You were amazing at the net when you were younger

Novak: I know, but honestly now I’m scared whenever I move forward, I was not scared when I was younger of going to the net and finishing the point quickly. But I’m working on it, on my training sessions we are always practicing moving forward and volleying, we are trying to make that part of my game much better. And if I manage to master that part of the game I’ll have much more options during every point…

Jelena: exactly, exactly…

Novak: I can save up a lot more energy than…

Jelena: right, if you make points shorter you will safe up a lot of energy, when I watch how you guys play for 4-5 hours…that’s incredible. Also, novak, do you remember how I had that 5 year plan for you, that big book with a plan what you need to work on, every hour of every day, everything written down and planned.

Novak: I remember, how could I forget…

Jelena: We had a good time didn’t we?

Novak: We did.

Part 2:

Now they talk about how Novak started playing tennis.

They were building a tennis court right across from where Djokovic family had a restaurant. Novak was 5 years old and he was brining drinks and stuff to the workers and later on when the court was finished, Novak used to come everyday and watch people play tennis, he used to climb the fence and sit on it and watch them.

One day Jelena invited him to come join them and play, train with them and she says that she immediately recognised his talent.

Novak says how while he watched them, before he even started playing himself, he saw Sampras winning his first wimbledon on TV and he says how that’s the moment he will always remember…how he connected that that guy on TV and those people across his fathers restaurant do the same thing.

He also says that he can only thank god that they built the tennis court on that exact place and that Jelena noticed him sitting on the fence and watching and invited him over.

Novak says Jelena called his parents afterwards and told them how Novak is talented, Novak told his dad he would like to play tennis so they bought him a tennis racket and that’s how it all began.

Reporter: Do you remember the moment when Jelena told your parents how you will be the best player in the world one day.

Novak (laughing): I think she said that after only a couple of training sessions. Truth is, if she and my parents didn’t believe in me, I would have the attitude that I have, I wouldn’t be able to go through all the trials and tribulations, their faith in me made me strong. I used to liste to Jelena telling me all the time, “you will be the best in the world”, “you have the talend, you just need to use it”, I remember my first training session, my mom packed me with a water bottle, little backpack and everything and after just a few training sessions I fell in love with the game. And after that, from that moment till now, it all followed its natural course. Everything that the two of us did, Every training session, every tennis match we watched and analysed….everything we have read…it all kinda fits together now.

Jelena: After a while, after a few training sessions, after the two of us had a chance to talk properly I realised that Novak is not playing around and both of us started to take our training sessions very seriously. I started reading books to Novak and explaining to him how important visualisation is…

Novak: that’s right…

Jelena: To visualise everything, how important that is in your game, in your tactics….and not just in tennis but in life….

Novak: That’s right you taught me to visualise everything in life as well, and that helped me….all the thinking about winning wimbledon….

Jelena: gave you motivation…

Novak: exactly gave me an extra motivaion, just visualising me winning it.

Reporter: jelena told us that when you said, as a little boy, how your biggest dream is to win wimbledon she told you that she does’t doubt for a second that you will but that you need to know what to do when you win it…how to salute people, how to make a nice speech….

Novak: That’s right, that’s right…we even practiced a bit with fake trophies…and that’s very important…I think for children especially, to dream of succes to let that dream be their motivation….when I was really little I had fake trophies made of carton or plastic and even later when I started winning trophies when I was 9-10 I used to lift them and to pretend how they are that trophy that sits right there on that table right now (wimbledon trophy).

Jelena: Also I need to ask you…how is Jelena (meaning Djokovic gf) doing?

Novak: She’s doing great thank you…

Jelena: I remember when you first brought her to my tennis court so I can meet her…

Novak: I always loved the name Jelena…

Jelena: Yeah…

Reporter: How much does it mean to you that you are in a stable in relationship and what attracted you to your gf?

Novak: We are now 6 years together (so they got together in 2005)…she is my greatest supporter…and what I love about her is her honesty and her intelligence and whats most important is the great love that is between us. And that balance between my private and professional life helps me a lot, especially because in tennis, you need stability, you need support. Also you must never forget your friends, the people that helped you…the troubled times you have been in, the country you are from…those are the things one must never forget. Its also important to be surrounded by people who want the best for you. And because of people like that, people like my gf or my parents or my coach Jelena I was able to get over some crisis that i had in my life and that’s why they mean so much to me.

The reporter now talks how Jelena (coach again) believed in Novak always, even if some other people didn’t…annnnd that’s it



  • Scoop Malinowski · June 2, 2013 at 10:32 am

    This is a very touching and emotional story. RIP Jelena Gencic. I’m sure she is so very proud of all that her protege Novak Djokovic has accomplished and the manner in which he has. And I’m sure Djokovic is very proud of Jelena Gencic.

  • Steve · June 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Condolences. She must’ve had a great eye and talent.
    I’ve seen her interviewed. He lost a lot in juniors but the belief was there.

  • Bryan · June 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Sorry to hear this. I saw a documentary about Djoker and Gencic a few months ago and it was clear he loved her a lot. She also had more influence on his career than anyone.

    Neither of my parents have passed but I imagine Gencic’s passing will either inspire Djoker to play incredible tennis or crash and burn. Depends on his mentality and how he deals with tragedy. There’s a lot of variance with that.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 2, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Agree Bryan, Djokovic is a tough guy and very sensitive IMO, but he will not let the passing of Gencic affect his play. This is such an important tournament, he’s been preparing 20 years for this tournament. I believe he will rise to the occasion and play his heart out for the single most important person to his career, who would not want it any other way and who will be watching over him from the Heavens. Like Ben Kenobi and Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. I have huge respect for Djokovic and inside my heart will be pulling for him as hard as I have ever pulled for any player in tennis history.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 3, 2013 at 7:15 am

    I don’t know if you can make this out to be a loss on the level of his grandfather. Apparently, Djokovic hadn’t visited his old teacher in years before this I one visit. They mentioned on the telecast that Djoko’s father is not well which is surprising because he can’t be much older thin 50. Does anyone know what’s wrong with Djoko’s father? This would affect Djoko more I’d thing than his old teacher’s passing.

  • Steve · June 3, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Scoop, no love to Kohls? Is he not deserving of your support???

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 3, 2013 at 8:31 am

    He’s a great player Steve, but it’s Djokovic’s time now.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 3, 2013 at 8:58 am

    I saw Mr. Djokovic walking in that park in Key Biscayne about a half mile from the tennis center, with his wife, one morning. Very slowly and casually. Not sure what the issue is but it was pretty serious last year, he’s doing better now.

  • Steve · June 3, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Scoop, you should get one of those t-shirts Papa Djokoer used to wear. The one the with giant photo of Novak. 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 3, 2013 at 9:50 am

    I’d rather write about Djokovic here than wear one of those silly shirts ) Big fan of Rafa, Fed and Djokovic but I think it’s Djokovic’s time now, he’s the king.

  • Steve · June 3, 2013 at 10:32 am

    If Gasquet wins today he’s winning this FO.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 3, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    The biggest surprise of Gasquet’s career was when he beat Roddick at Wimbledon from two sets down. Don’t think he can top that. Especially in Paris with all the extra pressure.

  • Steve · June 3, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    No. He owned Roddick. His biggest surprise was beating Federer at Monte Carlo at 19 yrs old.

  • Steve · June 3, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    The agony of defeat. Congrats to Stan!

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 3, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Stan too strong for Richie. Wouldn’t it be astonishing if Fed’s shadow can come out and knock off Rafa? For once it would be nice to see Stan one up Fed in Paris. Can’t see it though. Maybe Dan though will come through for us and pick it as his upset of the day and it will come true like so many of his other picks )

  • Steve · June 3, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    This was not an upset to anyone that remotely knows tennis. Gasquet and Stan are evenly matched. Even their rankings points are essentially the same. Best match of the tourney so far.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 4, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    BTW, an email from a friend who after seeing the Djokovic-Gencic conversation and video has now become a Djokovic fan this week, much to my surprise, he previously disliked Djokovic, criticized him for tanking, quitting, etc. He was previously a huge Federer and also Rafa fan. This illustrates how Djokovic is beginning to gradually become embraced by the public. …

    within a week i was concerted to be a novak fan becoz of you scoop, i was wrong with the impression of novak! let’s see now if he can win french, this will be the last surface he needed to win to be really called a great player. fed won in 2009, nadal won on all grandslam surface. he needs to win this year or there is always next year and after that next next year! he still young!



Find it!

Copyright 2010
To top