Young Serbian player has a not-so-secret weapon: Novak Djokovic

Olga Danilovic has never known an atmosphere like that of courtesy matches at the US Open. Now she will have to wait at least another y...

Olga Danilovic has never known an atmosphere like that of courtesy matches at the US Open. Now she will have to wait at least another year.

Danilovic was due to face defending champion Naomi Osaka at noon on Wednesday, but withdrew from their second round match about an hour before it was played. Tournament officials said Danilovic had a medical problem and Osaka would advance to the third round.

“I’m so sad to have to retire from my match this morning,” Danilovic wrote in a post on Instagram. “I haven’t been feeling well over the past few days with a viral illness unrelated to covid. I was really looking forward to playing Naomi at Arthur Ashe Stadium today, but not this time. I just want to say a big thank you to the medical staff here at the US Open and everyone for your support and I can’t wait to be back in New York for this amazing tournament next year.

Danilovic, a 145th ranked qualifier, was mentored and inspired from an early age by 20-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic, a compatriot who quietly offered his support to many young Serbian players, even as he pursues a place at the top of the pantheon of men’s tennis history.

“When you talk to him you think, ‘OK, now I’m going to beat everyone after talking to him'” Danilovic told earlier this year. “His energy, his dedication and his passion to play and work is something that drives you to be better. “

After winning his first round match On Tuesday night, Djokovic said Danilovic was looking forward to a big opportunity against Osaka.

“She was asking me what it was like to be on the big stage,” Djokovic said. “Of course you can say something, but you really have to experience it. I hope she can use this to her advantage, motivation and inspiration.

Danilovic, 20, made her way into the WTA Top 100 after winning the Moscow River Cup in 2018 when she was just 17, becoming the first player born this century to win a WTA title, but she struggled to win regularly.

Djokovic stressed that Danilovic was still “very young”.

“She has the goods,” Djokovic said. “She’s really, really strong, fit, tall, left-handed; don’t have many good left-handed servers in the male and female game. I think that’s quite a plus. If it serves well, it can do damage to a lot of players.

What Danilovic lacks, Djokovic said, is experience.

“The more games she wins on this stage, the more comfortable she will feel,” said Djokovic. “So, yeah, we’ve talked a lot. I tried to help him as much as possible, his team, his family, with advice on and off the pitch, some advice.

Danilovic has a lot of sporting experience in his family, but not in tennis. Her father, Sasha Danilovic, was a star shooter in European basketball leagues in the 1990s and played for two seasons in the NBA. He is now president of the Serbian Basketball Federation.

“She has the right genes for the sport,” Djokovic said on Tuesday.

Djokovic watched Danilovic’s second round match at the Australian Open earlier this year.

“I noticed it at the very end,” said Shelby Rogers, Danilovic’s opponent in that game. “She definitely won the cheering team award today, I’ll tell you.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Young Serbian player has a not-so-secret weapon: Novak Djokovic
Young Serbian player has a not-so-secret weapon: Novak Djokovic
Newsrust - US Top News
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