The 19-year-old is a three-time ATP Challenger Tour champion

Novak Djokovic is a foundational reason why Serbian teenager Hamad Medjedovic is on Tour today. The 19-year-old first met the 93-time tour-level titlist on a birthday a decade ago and more of Medjedovic’s dreams have come true since.

Medjedovic advanced through Roland Garros qualifying to earn his place in the same major main draw as his childhood idol, whom he has fond memories of meeting for the first time.

“It was a surprise [on my ninth or 10th birthday]. I remember I was practising that day and my father just told me, ‘Let’s go, we are going somewhere’. We went together with my coach and then I saw we were going to his tennis centre,” Medjedovic told “Until the last moment, I couldn’t believe I was meeting him. I remember we were waiting for him and out of nowhere, he showed up. When I saw him, I was quite shocked. It was the first time we met.”

The all-time great has played a major part in Medjedovic’s journey to his maiden Grand Slam appearance. 

“When I was starting out in tennis, I was watching him and I was able to see all the things he was achieving,” Medjedovic said. “He’s still a big inspiration to me, one of the main sources.” 

According to Medjedovic, he was 16 when he first practised with Djokovic in Serbia. Then, Djokovic began to ‘show interest’ and invest his time into the teen’s quest to become a professional tennis player. Medjedovic received an inside look at how a 22-time major champion handles his job.

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“You can learn a lot from him, on and off the court,” Medjedovic said. “I enjoy watching how disciplined he is. He is doing everything for his tennis, even when he’s not practising.

“That’s what he’s told me multiple times, ‘You have to live tennis, even when you’re not on the court. You have to do everything for your tennis. When you’re sleeping, watch your eating, where you’re going, you have to think about it constantly what will make you a better player.’

“He works, even when he’s not ‘working’. That’s the best thing I can see with him. He’s just constantly about tennis.” 

Those lessons have started to pay off for the Serbian teen. The #NextGenATP star Medjedvoic has tallied a 17-9 record in Challenger matches this season and became the third Serbian teenager to win a trio of ATP Challenger Tour titles, joining Djokovic and Janko Tipsarevic. 

Medjedovic is grateful for the help from Djokovic, who has offered plenty of support for the teenager’s young career.

“He’s been helping me out financially, giving me courts, coaches, whatever I need for my career. He’s helped me a lot for sure,” Medjedovic said. “Anything a professional tennis player needs, he covered it all. He paid for it. It’s been helpful. He just helped me out when I needed it and he’s still helping me out in all types of ways. I’m glad he’s there for me.”

Medjedovic’s ties to great Serbian players does not stop there. Six months ago, he began working full-time with former World No. 12 Viktor Troicki.

“It’s really a good feeling when you have someone like Viktor next to you,” Medjedovic said. “He’s sharing his experiences with me. He’s a very good, hard-working guy. I really enjoy my time with him.”

Ninth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Next Gen Race, Medjedovic downed Ivan Gakhov, Juan Manuel Cerundolo, and Jesper de Jong in Roland Garros qualifying. In the final round against de Jong, the Serbian rallied after dropping the opening set 0-6.

Medjedovic will next take his hefty serve and heavy hitting into the opening round of Roland Garros, where he will meet American Marcos Giron.