Being a Serbian tennis player not named Novak Djokovic: “It’s maybe not so pleasant” (Laslo Djere says so)

Laslo Djere
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NEW YORK / SANTIAGO – Serbian Laslo Djere says that the fact that a guy of his own nationality and who plays his own sport is the biggest winner of all time doesn’t add a drop of pressure to his tennis career.

There is a mix of feelings for someone who is a tennis player from Serbia, but not named Novak Djokovic. Is it living under the shadow of the winner of 23 Grand Slams, or has Djokovic just given them light?

“It’s good to have someone to look up to, follow his career and triumphs. On the other hand it’s maybe not so pleasant. As a Serb, people in Serbia have too high criteria for what success means in tennis. It’s a bit far from reality. But that’s understandable because Novak has achieved so much. People got used to all the success Novak has achieved and they think that’s normal. That can be difficult for us sometimes,” Djere confessed in an interview with CLAY in Santiago, during his participation in the Chile Open.


Djere and Djokovic in the poster with the Serbian Davis Cup team // ITF

In recent years, a group of Serbian players of good level has established itself in professionalism, of that category that the champion of the ATP 500 Rio de Janeiro 2019 says does not satisfy many. Djere describes it as a group of “decent” players.

“We have four tennis players in the top 100. There are a few decent guys: Kecmanovic, Lajovic, myself. That number is a great success considering how small Serbia is. We are still very young and I hope we can fill the gap when Novak is gone,” he told CLAY.

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In fact, there is no country with so many players in the top 100 whose population is smaller than Serbia’s, so Djere believes “there is potential in Serbia to bring in new players.”

Laslo Djere in the US Open

There is another type of pressure. A more temporary pressure than the one referred to at the beginning of this article. One that is measured with the heat of a match, like the one you must feel when in a Grand Slam you have to go out to look for one more set against Djokovic after having already won two. The one that intensifies in the search for a victory in straight sets against someone who has suffered that very few times in his career. Or that serves to beat him in four. And if it doesn’t work out, let’s see on the fifth set.

Laslo Djere was there. With a two sets to zero lead. Close to eliminating the Serbian number one in a third round of a Grand Slam. “I didn’t put too much pressure on myself, I didn’t wander too much in my thoughts, just a little bit, but now that I think about it, I have the impression that I started more aggressive in the third and and fourth set. It seems that he benefited a lot from it. In the last games of the match I slowed the ball down a little bit and it seems it was better than being so offensive. But because I was a little bit down physically, I tried to finish the points earlier, and that is very difficult when you play against him,” the 37th in the world told the Serbian press, translated by U Penjanju journalists.

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Djere did not know how to deal with that pressure at the US Open. Djokovic did not have to play extraordinary tennis to turn the match around. He was just rock solid. He just had to be the Serbian called Djokovic.

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