On this day, 15 years ago, Novak Djokovic won his first ATP title at Amersfoort after beating former champion Nicolás Massú 7-6, 6-4 in two grueling two hours and 19 minutes. The Serbian was one of the next youngsters in early 2006, adding two notable results in February in indoor events, but struggling to find his best form in the coming months and advance faster on the ATP list.
Between Rotterdam and Roland Garros, Djokovic scored just two wins at ATP events. That was about to change in Paris though, with Novak advancing to the first quarter-finals of the Major and battling for nearly two hours with defending champion Rafael Nadal before retiring after losing the second set.
After the fourth round at Wimbledon, the 19-year-old Serbian returned to clay at Amersfoort and played great tennis to reach the final, beating Boris Pashanski, Tomas Zib, Marc Gicquel and Guillermo Coria on his way to the match for the title, the first in his career.
Novak defeated Massú after a fantastic fight to win the first ATP crown and find himself in the top 30. Almost nothing could separate Djokovic and Massú, as Novak created the crucial gap in the most widespread exchanges.
The teenager repelled two out of four break opportunities and took advantage of three out of ten opportunities on the return to dominate the most experienced opponent in sets followed by his first ATP trophy. Both players struggled to find the first serve, and Novak got more of the serve out of him, with a similar performance on the second serve.
Boris Becker opens up on Novak Djokovic
Boris Becker recently talked about Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev in a Eurosport podcast titled “The Yellow from the Ball”. "I also find it normal somewhere that you not only want to be respected, but also to be loved when you've been world-class for so long," Becker said.
"It's not really up to him (Novak Djokovic), he's number one, the best in the world and the outsider is supported. And Novak almost sees it as disrespectful, for (the crowd support) not being for him," the German added.
"I've tried to explain to him a few times that it's now for the underdog and not so much against him." Turning his attention to countryman Alexander Zverev, Boris Becker claimed that the World No. 5's loss to Felix Auger-Aliassime at Wimbledon was largely down to his own poor play.
"He is a leader among the younger generation and doesn't have to hide behind anyone," Becker went on. "But he has to fix the same mistakes and that's the annoying thing that it repeats from Grand Slam to Grand Slam.
In critical phases he remains too passive, he stands behind the baseline and hopes that the opponent will make a mistake. That's enough against the worse-placed players, but the better ones don't make a mistake."