May 20, 2024

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Djokovic's Australian debut: from Safin's obsession to an anecdote with the hairdresser

Djokovic's Australian debut: from Safin's obsession to an anecdote with the hairdresser

Novak Djokovic is synonymous with the Australian Open. Throughout his career, the Serbian has built a history full of successes in the first Grand Slam tournament of the season: 10 titles (The first winner in the history of this competition after dethroning Roy Emerson and Roger Federer), He has never lost and has recorded 89 victories and only eight defeats in the last 19 years. This story, like all stories, has a beginning.

At the beginning of 2005, the Serbian was around 17 years old. In his fledgling career, he only competed in three ATP events (Umag, Bucharest and Bangkok, all in 2004) and ranked 188th in the world rankings. Until then, there was no indication that this boy would become the biggest Grand Slam winner.

And if who Specialties As we spoke, Noll had never, until then, participated in an event of this magnitude. Her first appearance was by chance Quality Australian Open 2005. To the surprise of everyone and everyone, the young man advanced beyond the qualifying stage after defeating Francesco Beccari, Stan Wawrinka and Wesley Moody, the latter two better-ranked tennis players from the Balkans.

After completing his ranking in first place Basic drawing Of the Grand Slams, the draw at the time made him neither more nor less than the top ten and 2000 US Open champion: Marat Safin.

Before that match (historic at this point), Djokovic made a simple aesthetic change suggested by his hairdresser. Little did she know that at that time she was dealing with someone who would become an international tennis star. “One of my deepest memories of the 2005 Australian Open, when I qualified and played in the night session against Safin on Center Court, is that I was getting a haircut that same day. A wonderful lady, a hairdresser, asked me “Do you want to do something special for tonight?” I told: 'What does it suggest?' He answered me “Maybe we should color your facade.” To what I told him 'I've never done that in my life. Did you know? Why not?'. I was 17, 18 years old. “If I'm going to get on stage, I better do it in style,” recalls Novak, who later revealed that her mother wasn't too happy with the result. “The conversation we had after that wasn't very good for me. But we had a good laugh about it.”

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After making the cosmetic change, the Belgrade-born player took to the court against a Russian player who was unstoppable that day: 6-0, 6-2, 6-1 in just an hour and 15 minutes of play. “He is a promising young man. As you know, he had very good results last year with the Challengers. He will be a good player. He has already signed some contracts, Which means people are looking forward and will be in the top 10 in the future,” predicted the Russian, who was not wrong at all. Only two years later, Nole broke into that group of players.

Furthermore, Safin revealed in the post-match press conference that words were exchanged between him and Djokovic at the net once the match was over: “He came and said: ‘I’m sorry.’” “Tolerance, because it seems… because it was so easy. But the boy tried everything. He tried his best, but I played well and told him he would be a great player, and he will be.” I mean he's young. He is 17 years old and will turn 18 this year. He has great potential and I wish him all the best because he will have a very long career, and I hope for him that he continues like this and continues to work hard. I just wish you all the best. “That's what I told him.”

After leaving Australia, Djokovic resurfaced in Melbourne in 2006 (R1) and 2007 (R4) to definitively write his name in tournament history in 2008. Just three years after the gentle hairdresser dyed his hair and obsessed with Marat Safin, the Serbian became champion of his first tournament. His grand slam against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. After this achievement, tennis began heading towards one of the most wonderful eras in the history of sports…but that is another story.

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