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Novak Djokovic goes live on Facebook, shows fans the wall he used to practice tennis on during war in Serbia

540   //    04 Oct 2016, 16:28 IST

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic struggled in his formative years to pursue tennis, growing up in war-torn Serbia in the early 1990s. Many fans have heard the story of how Djokovic practiced in an empty swimming pool in his earliest days, devoid of access to an actual court.

Joining him in practice was another young player who would be a World No. 1 – Ana Ivanovic. When that practice was interrupted, Djokovic said, they would be forced to hide in a bomb shelter until the noises subsided – noises, he said, would drown out his relatives singing “Happy Birthday” to him. 

At one point, Djokovic has said, he was not sure if he would even play for Serbia, but instead for Britain – a decision he did not take in the end.

Although he plays under the Serbian flag, Djokovic has been a resident of Monaco for some time.

Now, the 29-year-old World No. 1 and wife Jelena have returned to their native Serbia – where they also work with the Novak Djokovic foundation for children’s welfare and education.

Trekking in Kopaonik, Serbia, Djokovic took fans on a tour of the tennis club where he and brothers Marko and Djordje, who also have tennis aspirations but have not had the success of their sibling, practiced the sport as youngsters.

The wall, which is near a tennis club run by Djokovic’s parents, bears all the marks of having seen some years of tennis from the World No. 1, with streaks all down its green surface. And the serving isn’t limited to Djokovic, with wife and childhood sweetheart Jelena joining in to hit some decent shots.

After attempting a tweener, grunting in almost Rafael Nadal-esque fashion and laughing, Djokovic ‘lauded’ the wall as a sparring partner – saying “everyone should have a wall for a sparring partner – it never misses!”

The top-ranked player is known for his self-effacing sense of humour, and put it on display as he trekked through Serbia with his wife and team.

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