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Behind Novak Djokovic’s ascent to the top of men’s tennis is a dogged dad

@TeddyCutler

NOVAK DJOKOVIC just lost a tennis match. And he has an eye infection.

If you were Andy Murray or Roger Federer, the Serb’s main rivals in professional tennis, those two seemingly mundane facts might be reasons for optimism. After all, the last time either of them beat Djokovic in a Grand Slam tournament was when Murray did it over two years ago, in the 2013 Wimbledon final.

But the father of the man dominating men’s tennis sees no cause for concern. Sitting in the Belgrade, Serbia, restaurant he owns and has named after his oldest son, he shrugs off this aberrant bit of bad news for his boy and throws Novak’s doubles partner under the double-decker. “Zimonjic was not on form,” says Srdjan Djokovic, referring to Nenad Zimonjic, who was paired with Novak in a Davis Cup doubles match for Serbia against Kazakhstan.

Srdjan also knows the oldest of his three sons doesn’t lose very often. Novak won the Australian Open at the start of the year, his fourth Grand Slam out of the past five. The French Open in May is the only major he has yet to win. He has 11 Grand Slam titles, six fewer than Federer, who holds the record. In other words, Novak lost through no fault or ailment of his own, so Murray and Federer had best look elsewhere for succor.

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