Serbia's Novak Djokovic still remembers well his first-ever Grand Slam match that he played against former world No. 1 Marat Safin at the Australian Open in 2005. In 2005, Djokovic qualified for his first-ever Grand Slam tournament, before suffering a 6-0 6-2 6-1 loss to Safin.
"I do recall one of the most profound memories of Australian Open 2005 when I qualified and played Safin night session, the center court, is that I was getting a haircut earlier that day. Wonderful lady, a hairdresser, asked me, Do you want to do something special for tonight?" Djokovic recalled.
"I said, 'What are you suggesting?' "She said, 'Maybe we should color your front part.' "I've never done that in my life. So I said, 'You know what? Why not?' "I was 17, 18 years old. If I'm going to come out on the stage, I might as well do it with style.
"It wasn't really very satisfying for my mother to see that. The conversation we had after was not great for me. But we had a good laugh about it."
So much has changed since Djokovic's first Grand Slam
Djokovic, 34, is now a 20-time Grand Slam champion and he will break the all-time Grand Slam record if he wins the US Open.
"That seems like ages ago, and it is. I mean, it's been now 16 years since my first center court Grand Slam match, first official main draw match. It's been a while," Djokovic noted. "But what a great ride. I mean, it's difficult to reflect on everything while you're still, say, in the bus and you're still riding.
It's kind of hard. People tend to ask me, How does it feel? Do you comprehend what you've done? Do you think about the whole journey? "Of course, I do. But tennis is such a sport that really you have to turn the next page the next day.
You're done with this tournament. What's the next one? What's the next challenge? What's the next goal you need to achieve? Where are you heading? "You don't have much time really and energy to reflect on everything that you've been through.
But I try to be grateful about it. Of course, I appreciate every single step in the journey. "One day, of course, when I don't play professional tennis anymore, I probably will have a little bit of a larger perspective on things and understand what I've been through a little bit better."