When he was 12 and a half, Novak Djokovic had moved from Belgrade to Germany, starting to train at Nikola Pilic's Academy in Munich where he stayed for four and a half years. Nikola is a former Croatian player and he was born in Split just like Goran Ivanisevic, being one of the best players in the world at the dawn of the Open era at the last 60's.
Pilic was Wimbledon semi-finalist in 1967 and Roland Garros finalist in 1973 and he is well known for his Davis Cup success, winning titles with Germany, Croatia and Serbia, having a chance to work with Novak again in Belgrade 2010 when Serbia defeated the Czech Republic to lift the first and only Davis Cup title so far.
A few days ago, Novak wrote a touching message on Instagram about Pilic and his family and Nikola was a guest on Serbian TV together with Novak's father Srdjan, praising his former pupil and giving his thoughts about Novak's comeback in the recent months.
Pilic said he knew Djokovic was something special from the moment he saw him on the court and he used only superlatives when he talked about Novak's dedication and work ethic. For Pilic, Novak is the best player in the world and the only one who can follow Rod Laver's achievements, although he mentioned the other three best players from the last 10 years.
While expressing sympathies for Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, Nikola Pilic was not that generous while mentioning Roger Federer and here is what he had to say about the Swiss:
"In my opinion, Roger Federer plays great tennis but he is not my cup of tea.ALSO READ: ATP Tokyo: Shapovalov saves match point. Nishikori and Gasquet reach SF
He never smiles, he is like a "maple tree" on the court. I have to give all the credits to him, he is an amazing player but there are no emotions on the court when he plays, there's nothing."