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How Australian Open champ Novak Djokovic tried to sneak his way into Adelaide International as teen

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How Australian Open champ Novak Djokovic tried to sneak his way into Adelaide International as teen

Revealed: How Novak Djokovic tried to enter a major Aussie tournament as a teenager – even telling organizers: ‘I’ll be No.1 in the world one day’

  • Mark Woodforde recalls the time he was approached by a teenage Novak Djokovic
  • Woodforde, who organized the Adelaide Open, denied Djokovic a wildcard
  • The young Djokovic told Woodforde that one day he would be the best player in the world

Australian tennis legend Mark Woodforde has lifted the lid on a time a teenage Novak Djokovic tried to sneak into the Adelaide International, with the Serbian star insisting he will one day be world number one.

Woodforde, a former 17-time Grand Slam champion, was making comments for Monday’s event when he recalled the time Djokovic walked into his office before qualifying began and asked for a wildcard entry.

At the time, Woodforde had recently retired from tennis and was co-tournament director of the Adelaide International with Peter Johnston.

Mark Woodforde has lifted the lid on the one time a teenage Novak Djokovic (pictured in 2005) tried to break into the Adelaide International, where the Serbian star insisted he would one day be world number one.

Mark Woodforde has lifted the lid on the one time a teenage Novak Djokovic (pictured in 2005) tried to break into the Adelaide International, where the Serbian star insisted he would one day be world number one.

‘He [Djokovich] introduced himself to Peter Johnston and myself and said, ‘I’m happy to be here in Adelaide and I hope you can give me a wildcard’, said Woodforde.

‘Peter and I just looked at each other, we had given our wildcards into the main draw. Novak said, ‘Because I’ll be No.1 in the world one day and I think this will help me get started’, and we just smiled and said, ‘Unfortunately, we don’t have the space’.

Djokovic is pictured celebrating his 2021 Australian Open win

Djokovic is pictured celebrating his 2021 Australian Open win

‘Dejan, who I’ve known for a few years just said, ‘He really believes he’s going to be No.1’ and we just had to apologize and say we had to reserve some of the wildcards at the time for to Australians.

‘I said, ‘We’ll try to get you into the qualifying at least’, and he said, ‘But I want to be in the main draw because I’ll be No.1 in the world’.

‘Unfortunately we couldn’t get him into qualifying that year, but that’s the belief that Novak Djokovic had at such a young age, that he could achieve great things.’

Djokovic (pictured at the 2021 Australian Open) meant what he said and returned to Adelaide in 2007 aged 19, where he took the title - beating big-serving Aussie Chris Guccione

Djokovic (pictured at the 2021 Australian Open) meant what he said and returned to Adelaide in 2007 aged 19, where he took the title – beating big-serving Aussie Chris Guccione

Djokovic meant what he said and he returned to Adelaide in 2007 at the age of 19, where he took the title: beating the big Aussie service Chris Guccione.

The Serb is now a 91-time singles champion as a professional, and the following year won the first of his nine Australian Open Singles titles.

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He had hoped to reach double figures in 2022, but was deported from Australia over his vaccination status and subsequently hit with a three-year ban from the country – which has since been lifted.

Djokovic (pictured with wife Jelena) began his Adelaide Open singles campaign on Tuesday, and hopes to taste more success

Djokovic (pictured with wife Jelena) began his Adelaide Open singles campaign on Tuesday, and hopes to taste more success

Djokovic begins his Adelaide Open singles campaign on Tuesday, and will be hoping to taste more success.

‘The good memories and good history that I have on Australian soil give me a lot of positive emotions and belief that I can do it again, that I will go far,’ he told the media.

‘It’s a country where I’ve had tremendous success in my career, especially in Melbourne, by far my most successful Grand Slam, winning it nine times.’

‘Like I said, it’s a beautiful place. People in Adelaide and generally in Australia love tennis, love sports. It is a sports country. I hope we can watch a lot and have some time.’