Novak Djokovic follows in Rafael Nadal footsteps with classy training gesture

Novak Djokovic has become the latest champion to offer an invitation to a rising star with his latest gesture towards Hamad Medjedovic. The world No 1 has been funding the 20-year-old’s career for a few seasons and has now invited the young Serb for a practice week ahead of the 2024 season. It comes after Rafael Nadal asked fellow Next Gen sensation Arthur Fils to join him in Kuwait for a short training block.

Medjedovic enjoyed a triumphant end to the 2023 season when he was crowned the champion at the Next Gen ATP Finals, going undefeated throughout the group stage before winning his semi-final and final matches. The world No 113 picked up a £405,000 ($514,000) winner’s cheque for his efforts – more than his previous career prize money total of £328k ($416k).

The prize pot came as a big boost given that the 20-year-old’s career had previously been funded by Djokovic, who paid out for coaches, physios, transport and hotels to allow Medjedovic to travel around the world and compete on the professional tennis circuit. The 24-time Grand Slam champion has now made another classy offer to Medjedovic, asking him to train in Dubai with him before the United Cup.

“I am sure that the time spent with Novak will mean a lot to Hamad,” the youngster’s coach Viktor Troicki told Tennis Majors. Djokovic is Serbia’s top man in the United Cup with Medjedovic also on the squad, with the tournament kicking off on December 29.

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With Djokovic set to face Carlos Alcaraz in an exhibition match in Saudi Arabia on December 27, his practice week with the newly crowned Next Gen Finals champion will likely take place beforehand. And the world No 1 isn’t the only multi-Grand Slam champion extending an invitation to a promising young player during the off-season.

Nadal recently invited Arthur Fils to travel to his academy in Kuwait for a training week as he prepares for his return to competition. The 37-year-old will be back in action at the Brisbane International at the start of 2024, almost a year after his last match. Fils lost to Medjedovic in the final of the Next Gen tournament in Jeddah and will be staying in the Middle East to hit with Nadal.

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“I was very happy, very surprised when he asked me to practise with him,” the 19-year-old said of Nadal’s offer. “It’s such a big thing for me to play with one of the greatest players of all time. I will try my best for him but I have a big season coming so I will also try my best for myself. I will try to enjoy it as well.”

Fils enjoyed a breakthrough season, starting the year outside of the world’s top 250 and ending it as the world No 36. He will make his debut at the Australian Open as a result. Meanwhile, Medjedovic just missed out on the main draw cut-off with his ranking of No 113 but he will be one of the favourites to come through qualifying given his successful end to the year.

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