Novak Djokovic trades hits with youngster who was a child mascot at 2013 Australian Open

Novak Djokovic practices at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne
Novak Djokovic practices at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne
Rudra Biswas

Novak Djokovic recently had a practice session with Australian youngster James McCabe, with whom he had crossed paths on the eve of his semifinal match at the 2013 Australian Open.

Long before James McCabe, aged 18, began his career as a tennis player, he posed as a child mascot with Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer during the pre-match coin toss.

McCabe has come a long way since then and competes on the ITF Juniors tour. Ranked 71, McCabe is hoping to have a respectable career as a pro tennis player.

The budding Aussie was invited to practice with Djokovic on Tuesday as the Serb took to the Rod Laver Arena after winning his court battle.

McCabe subsequently knocked balls with Djokovic and even took a photo with the World No. 1 at the end of the session. The youngster uploaded the photo to his Instagram stories, along with a picture of his younger self and the Serb nine years ago.

A devout Djokovic fan named Yousef later reposted McCabe's story on Twitter. He enthralled tennis fans with the tidbit that McCabe had already posed with Djokovic during his time as a child mascot. The tweet has received over 5,000 likes since it was put up on social media on Tuesday.

Djokovic’s hitting partner today is the little kid in the first picture. Almost a decade on, Novak remains the world number one. Timeless.

A look at how Novak Djokovic triumphed at the 2013 Australian Open

Going into the 2013 Australian Open, Novak Djokovic was coming off a less-than-stellar season at the Majors - having not tasted Grand Slam glory in a year. That said, he was the World No. 1 back then and arrived at the first Major of the year as the in-form player on the ATP tour.

Djokovic, however, was pushed to the limit by Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round, where he came from a set and a break down to eventually beat the Swiss in an epic five-hour encounter. The Serb's form improved in the next match as he defeated Tomas Berdych in four sets to book his place in the last four.

Novak Djokovic poses with the 2013 Australian Open title
Novak Djokovic poses with the 2013 Australian Open title

However, it was against Ferrer that Djokovic truly caught fire, destroying the Spaniard 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in less than 90 minutes to advance to the final. In the title clash, he met Andy Murray, who had defeated him in the 2012 US Open final.

But Djokovic went on to exact revenge on the Brit, beating him in four gritty sets to clinch his fourth Australian Open title.

Edited by Nihal Taraporvala


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