Nikola Pilic believes Novak Djokovic is the perfect blend of on-court success and off-court conduct, which makes him the greatest player of all time.
Pilic served as Djokovic's coach during his formative years. The 20-time Major champion attended Pilic's academy as an 11-year-old, and honed some of his skills under the Croat's tutelage.
Pilic himself was quite successful during his playing days. He finished as the runner-up at Roland Garros 1973 and won the doubles crown at the 1970 US Open.
In a recent interview, Nikola Pilic highlighted some of Novak Djokovic's biggest achievements. Pointing out how he dominated in an era comprising of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, Pilic claimed the Serb is objectively the greatest of all time.
Pilic also lauded Djokovic's intelligence, as shown by the fact that he can speak to fans in their native language - irrespective of which country he is playing in.
"He (Novak Djokovic) won the most Masters tournaments, he was the only one to win every Grand Slam at least twice, no one reached 17,000 ATP points, on a list on which Murray, Nadal and Federer together do not have like him," Pilic said. "I don't care which party you are in politics, but what you did."
"Novak is very intelligent," he added. "See how he greets the audience in Chinese in Beijing, he speaks perfect French in Paris, and also in Italy and the USA. I am not subjective, Novak is the best of all time."
Nikola Pilic then recalled how he refused to label Novak Djokovic the GOAT after the latter's 2019 Wimbledon triumph, despite pressure from the Serbian media to do so. The 82-year-old waited until Djokovic reached 20 Slams to declare that the Serb was undoubtedly the greatest ever, given that he had outdone Nadal and Federer in several other key records.
"Djokovic is phenomenal, great work, honest and hardworking," Pilic said. "Serbian journalists pressured me in 2019 to say that Novak is the best. I didn't want to say that until he won Wimbledon this year. The day he did that, I put the numbers on the table; he has the same number of Grand Slams as Nadal and Federer, with a better mutual score, he goes to 350 weeks at the top of the ATP list."
"Such domination of tennis greats such as Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Federer will never happen" - Nikola Pilic
Nikola Pilic further claimed that tennis will never again witness an era of dominance like the one forged by Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
"Such domination of tennis greats such as Djokovic, Nadal and Federer will never happen," the Croat said.
Shifting his focus to Djokovic's humanitarian work, Pilic highlighted how the Serb's benevolent nature is worthy of respect. The 82-year-old pointed out that Djokovic even helps people in places he has never visited or has no links to, showing the goodness in his heart.
Novak Djokovic donated 1 million euros to the region of Bergamo during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy last year, which is what Nikola Pilic was alluding to.
"He has never been to Bergamo in his life, and he donated a million euros there," the Croat said. "He renovated or built 437 kindergartens. He invested eight or nine million euros in humanitarian activities."