Mihailo Topic, the eight-year-old Serbian sponsored by Novak Djokovic

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Mihailo Topic, the eight-year-old Serbian sponsored by Novak Djokovic

The eight-year-old Mihailo Topic's story attracted the whole tennis world, both for his tennis abilities and his special relationship with Novak Djokovic. The little Serbian player met the 12-time Grand Slam champion several times.

It all started two years ago when - as reported in an article shared by Sports Illustrated - Mihailo asked Marian Vajda, on the Court 11 of the Novak Tennis Centre in Belgrade, to hit together. Vajda, who coached Djokovic for more than a decade, was impressed by Mihailo's natural coordination and technique, and he told mother Nina Topic: 'I’ve never seen anything like this.

He’s the next champion.' From then Djokovic himself met Mihailo several times, and before the summer of 2016 they formally agreed a sponsorship. Novak would cover all the expenses for Mihailo, including paying coach, booking courts and tennis equiment.

The Serbian tennis federation is aware of Mihailo's skills and its head coach Dragan Serer said: 'Mihailo is about two to three years ahead of his age group. Novak was like that too.

It’s an indication to us that he could be very good in the future but we really can’t say until he gets older and starts to play tournaments; that’s when we’ll know what he’s really made of.' Pavle Bulic, Mihailo's coach, praised mostly the kid for the passion he has, which is a fundamental thing to breakthrough in tennis.

'Mihailo could be on the court for 10 hours, in blistering heat or rain, if you’d let him', Bulic said. 'There hasn’t been a time when he’s wanted to quit practice. We always have to get him off the court to make sure he doesn’t burn out.'

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