World No. 1 Novak Djokovic invited his former coach Nikola Pilic to the court after the Belgrade final and the 1973 French Open finalist had some strong words about the 20-time Grand Slam champion. While Pilic was coming down to the court, Djokovic called him his "tennis father."
Djokovic and Pilic then shared a strong hug and Djokovic handed a gift box to his former coach. Pilic then tried to address the crowd but the emotions got the better of him and he said with a shaky voice: "I don't know what to say."
After recollecting himself, Pilic thanked Djokovic for the wonderful gesture and called him the best player of all time. Also, Pilic said he and Srdjan Djokovic knew from Day 1 Novak would become an all-time great. "You have to be proud about Novak, he is the best of all time, his father and I have always thought he's going to be No.
1," Pilic said.
"You have to be proud about Novak, he is the best of all time, his father and I have always thought he's going to be No. 1" - Niki Pilic pic.twitter.com/q03slp1OVL — C Kristjánsdóttir ●🐊 (@CristinaNcl) April 24, 2022
Djokovic fell just short of winning Belgrade
Djokovic was playing just his third tournament of the year in Belgrade.
Djokovic's path to the final wasn't smooth as he recovered from a set down in each of his first three matches at the tournament. In the final, Djokovic found himself again down by a set but this time failed to claim a comeback win as Andrey Rublev won 6-2 6-7 (4) 6-0.
Pilic wasn't the only to share some strong words as Rublev called Djokovic "one of the strongest player of all time." “It is big to play against you and share the court for the second time,” Rublev said to Djokovic during the trophy ceremony.
“I hope we have more battles. I feel so great here, it is a very nice city. It feels really special. I want to say a big thanks to all the spectators for supporting all the players all week. To see full crowds again is special for all of us”.