It is a golden age for Polish tennis. After the successes of Agnieszka Radwaska, Jerzy Janowicz and Łukasz Kubot came even better performances from Iga Świątek and Hubert Hurkacz. Świątek is currently the first Polish woman in history to be number one in the world in the women’s ranking. She recently won four tournaments in a row and will become the all-time favorite of the Grand Slam Roland Garros, which kicks off on May 22 in Paris.
Hurkacz doesn’t fare much worse, who reached the Wimbledon semi-finals last year, is teetering on the brink of the top ten in the world and lately he has been getting better and better on clay courts, which were not his favourites. Świątek and Hurkacz are the new ambassadors of our sport. Fans and experts wonder whether the successes of the 20-year-old from Raszyn and the 25-year-old from Wrocław will permanently strengthen Polish tennis, arouse the interest of children and sponsors and develop discipline.
We asked Serbian tennis journalist Sasa Ozmo how it is in his country. Novak Djoković has been at the top of the men’s rankings for 15 years. A few years ago, Janko Tipsarević also successfully participated. The Serbs were also successful. More than 10 years ago, the leaders of the WTA rankings were Ana Ivanović and then Jelena Janković.
Serbia after Djokovic .’s successes
When asked about the impact of the recent successes of Serbian tennis players on the development of tennis in Serbia, Ozmo points out that the translation is not that simple. – Serbian tennis has not benefited much from the achievements of Djoković or other players. Novak’s successes have not yielded much. Unfortunately there is a shortage of money in Serbia and success is very individual. I have not noticed in recent years that more people are playing tennis, that children would like to play this sport. The two emerging academies – Tipsarevic and Djokovic – are hope. Maybe it will get better thanks to them – says the journalist from the Sportklub channel in an interview with Sport.pl.
Men’s tennis in Serbia today outperforms women’s tennis. In the top 100 of the ATP rankings are, apart from Djokovic, Miomir Kecmanović (32nd), Laslo Djere (54th), Filip Krajinović (56th) and Dusan Lajović (77th). There is not a single Serbian woman in the top “100” WTA rankings among women. The country’s first racket, Aleksandra Krunić, is the world’s 120th. Olga Danilović, who was briefly captained by Iga Świątek’s current coach, Tomasz Wiktorowski, is in 159th place, while Djokovic’s Olympic mix partner from Tokyo, Nina Stojanovic, is 138.
– One thing has changed – more people are interested in tennis in Serbia. However, basketball is still our national discipline. All team sports are very popular, including volleyball and football, although we are not as strong in the latter as we are in the basket. Tennis is popular with all age groups. Interestingly, the Serbs are not only looking at their tennis players, but also at other interesting encounters, Ozmo added.
Importance and successors
A few days ago, a men’s tournament with the rank ATP 250 took place in Belgrade. The winner was Andrej Rublev from Russia, who defeated Novak Djokovic in the final. – During last year’s edition of the Serbia Open tournament, there were not too many spectators. This year I was pleasantly surprised as the fans showed up. That’s largely due to Djokovic’s presence, but fans followed other matches as well, including the rest of Serbia. I am very proud of our fans – admits our interlocutor.
The event in Belgrade may be staffed even more in the future. – The organization level of the tournament was very high, the support of the public as well, the sports competition was at the highest level. Perhaps the event in Belgrade will be ATP 500. That will be decided by the Djokovic family, who are considering purchasing the right license, Ozmo explains.
Our interlocutor admits that after the successes of Djokovic, Jankovic and Ivanovic, more Serbs started watching tennis matches. However, this does not translate into an increase in the number of tennis players, in more tennis talents. There is a shortage of money and the achievements are mainly due to the individual efforts of parents and players and not the wider system. The Serbian lesson can be valuable for Polish tennis, how not to waste the results of Iga Świątek and Hubert Hurkacz. From the growth of the interest in tennis, there will be no more children who practice this beautiful sport.