Tennis Prose



Beautiful Djokovic vs Kovacevic Backstory

By Scoop Malinowski

Truth is stranger than fiction and dreams do come true. There is a special chemistry between Novak Djokovic and Aleks Kovacevic…

Tennis is a small universe where just about everybody knows everybody. Novak Djokovic actually met his first round Roland Garros opponent Aleks Kovacevic sixteen years ago in 2007.

The former ATP player and childhood coach of Kovacevic, Gilad Bloom, tells the story…

“In 2007 I had the pleasure of meeting Novak Djokovic while he was training for the US Open, I took one of my young students Aleks Kovacevic who comes from Serbian descent to meet him at Bedford Hills in Westchester County (NY) and they hit some balls. Novak was extremely nice to him and they spoke Serbian. Here is a photo from that day (Milan Kovacevic the photographer), Novak is with Aleks’s mom and sister, Aleksander Kovacevic is in the background and can’t wait to play with Novak. The only reason I’m sharing this with you is that those two guys are playing each other today on center court at Roland Garos. This is Aleks’s first main draw of a major and he gets to play the best player of all time, arguably, what an experience it’s going to be! The irony of it is that we based Aleks’s game on Federer, Aleks was obsessed with Federer and tried to imitate his technique and style including a sweet one-hander. Aleks grew up in Manhattan and it will be exciting to see him in the US Open this summer as the local boy, good luck Aleks Kovacevic!” – Gilad Bloom, former ATP top 60 player and successful coach in the New York City region.

Kovacevic, who was born in New York City and is now 24 years old, was just turned 9 years old (birthday August 29, 1998) when he met Djokovic that unforgettable and inspiring day in Bedford Hills, NY in 2007. After a successful NCAA career at the University of Illinois, Kovacevic turned professional in 2021 and his first ATP Tour Level win was at 2022 Korea Open, where as a lucky loser he beat Miomir Kecmanovic, Tseng Chun-hsin, and Mackenzie McDonald before losing to Yoshihito Nishioka in the SF. This year Kovacevic has won two ATP Challengers – in Cleveland in February and Waco, Texas in March. Kovacevic is currently ranked 114 and because his ranking was 101 in April, he is a direct entry into the 2023 French Open.

It’s possible, the unique energy of kid Kovacevic also sparked some luck into Novak Djokovic that day in 2007. Because two weeks later the 20 year old Djokovic would play his way into his first Grand Slam final at the US Open (vs. Roger Federer). Then at 2008 Australian Open, Djokovic won his first Grand Slam title vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Sixteen years later Djokovic and Kovacevic will meet again on a tennis court…

Addendum: Kovacevic actually first met Djokovic at 2005 US Open court 10 after he beat Gael Monfils in a five setter, the seven year old Kovacevic got a photo with Djokovic after the match.

After Kovacevic blew seven match points in the third round of US Open qualies in 2021 vs Marco Trungelitti, he coincidentally bumped into Djokovic the next day at US Open and Djokovic told him he had heard about the heartbreaking loss and asked him to train with him.

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1 comment

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 28, 2023 at 8:23 am

    The Lord works in mysterious ways…



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