Novak Djokovic says it is ‘something special’ to play in front of his own family and friends as he prepares to play the Serbia Open in Belgrade.
The tournament made a return to the ATP calendar this year after an absence of nine years, with the world number one headlining in his homeland.
Djokovic has not always been treated especially kindly or fairly by fans in other tournaments, and so he is understandably excited about playing in Serbia again.
Djordje Djokovic, Novak’s brother and tournament director for Belgrade, revealed recently that fans would not be allowed to attend due to COVID restrictions, but that hasn’t dimmed the world number one’s passion for the event.
“I get very emotional when I’m playing at home, when I’m representing my country,” Novak Djokovic told the press in Belgrade.
“We had this tournament from 2009 to 2012 and I won it two out of four years and I remember these moments very profoundly. Playing in front of family, friends, my people, you don’t get to experience that (often).
“I only experienced that maybe a few times in my career, to actually play in my home town, to actually play in front of my fans, to have that kind of support and backing. It’s definitely special.
“I’m just trying to enjoy every second I get to be in my country with my family, my parents who I don’t get to see so much nowadays with the restrictions and traveling and so forth.
“It just brings in lots of memories from the past, my upbringing, of the roots, of how I started. This club where this tournament is played is the club where I used to play a lot when I was a kid, the local tournaments.
“I get to see many people that have seen me develop into the tennis player that I am today and the person I am today.
“It’s a very particular, very unique feeling that I’m trying to marvel in and feed off that energy so I can do the best I possibly can this week.”
Djokovic will face Kwon Soon-woo in his Belgrade opener on Wednesday after the South Korean beat Roberto Carballes Baena in the first round.
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