It’s been another trying period in the life of Novak Djokovic. Last year the Serb lost his grandfather during Monte Carlo. On Saturday, he lost his a junior coach Jelena Gencic who he said was like a second mother to him.
“It hasn’t been easy, but this is life,” Djokovic said. “Life gives you, gives you things, takes away close people in your life, and Jelena was my first coach, like my second mother. We were very close throughout my whole life, and she taught me a lot of things that are part of me, part of my character today, and I have nicest memories of her.
“She was 77 years old, and before she passed away two days ago, last week she was giving lessons to kids, you know. So she didn’t really care about the nature of the illness. She had the breast cancer. She survived that. She’s one of the most incredible people I ever knew. So it’s quite emotional.”
Djokovic learned of her passing only after he won his third round match over Grigor Dimitrov. His team kept the news from him until after his match.
“I think it was the right thing to give me news after the match,” Djokovic said. “Regardless of the timing, it’s still a shock. But I think it was better for me and for my match that the news came after.”
Djokovic said he now feels even more inspired to win the French Open and complete the career Grand Slam in her memory.
“I feel even more responsible now to go all the way in this tournament,” Djokovic said. “I want to do it for her, also, because she was a very special person in my life.
“So now I feel in her honor that I need to go all the way. But, you know, again, it’s not about me only. There are so many great players around still in the tournament. It gives me that inner strength, you know, to push even harder.”
Djokovic continues on toward that goal on Wednesday against another German Tommy Haas.
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