Last weekend’s inaugural weekend of the Adria Tour may well have attracted a lot of criticism but despite that, it has highlighted the popularity of the sport in Belgrade if not the country.
It is important that all of us involved in Serbian tennis collectively try to focus on setting up the right foundations for the development of tennis (in Serbia) Novak Djokovic
On both days that play was scheduled, the stands were packed and there was plenty of evidence that they were all starved of proper competitive tennis and from that point of view, Novak Djokovic, the inspiration behind the tour, should be commended – despite the lack of social distancing.
There is no doubt the world number one is keen to bring top level tennis back to his country having previously attempted to do it a decade ago with the Serbian Open, an ATP 250-event which only lasted four years before it was replaced by the Power Horse Cup in Dusseldorf in 2013.
The venture was a Djokovic family affair, owned and run by them with Novak’s uncle Goran acting as tournament director.
It was certainly a family affair with Djokovic winning the event twice (2009 & 2011) while Andreas Seppi won the last edition in 2012.
“Of course I remember what happened during the Serbian Open,” Djokovic said on Sportskeeda.
“I think we deserve such a tournament. We, the players but also the country that loves this sport viscerally. We will do our best to come back.”
And he has made a more than a valiant attempt at realising that goal with the Adria Tour but whether it will eventually morph into a revitalised Serbian Open is yet to be seen.
There are plenty of rumours surrounding its demise, mostly political and it is alleged that Djokovic held the popular Chris Kermode responsible which is believed, is the reason why, as the President of the Player Council, Djokovic didn’t support the renewal of Kermode’s contract as executive president and chairman of the ATP.
“I am very connected to my country and I try to give back mostly to where I come from. It is important that all of us involved in Serbian tennis collectively try to focus on setting up the right foundations for the development of tennis (in Serbia).
“Despite not being available all the time, I feel very responsible for that,” Djokovic added.
Dominic Thiem, last weekend’s winner, put his involvement into perspective following his victory.
“He called me about three or four weeks ago. We talked for five minutes and whenever he organizes something it must be big,” Thiem said, quickly adding: “He is the king of Serbia.”