Novak Djokovic was truly hailed a Serbian national hero as around 100,000 Serbs packed the streets of Belgrade to welcome home the new
The 24-year-old, who has also officially claimed the world no.1 spot on the ATP World Tour rankings from the man he beat on Centre Court, Rafael Nadal, was greeted by a deafening roar as he arrived in an open-top bus, which took several hours to the make the journey from Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport to the Serbian Parliament Building of Nikola Pasic Square.
Traffic on the main motorway ground to a halt and tens of thousands of fans chanted Djokovic’s nickname “Nole, Nole” as the player held aloft the trophy he won with an emphatic four-set win final.
“This is absolutely unbelievable and I owe all of you eternal gratitude for this reception,” Djokovic, who will lead Davis Cup holders Serbia in their
quarter-final tie away to Sweden next weekend, told the crowd.
“The time has come to bare all my emotions to you and all I can say is that you are the best in the world because only Serbian fans can throw a party like this. You have made the happiest day of my life even better and I dedicate this trophy to you.
Djokovic was surrounded by his entire family on a specially erected podium where several rock bands played during the celebrations. The champion and his two younger brothers Marko and Djordje even joined in the singing with the bands and he declared: “We have a soul that is second to none and with the team event coming up, I can promise you we will do everything in our power to win it all again.”
The celebrations culminated when Djokovic and his family engaged in a traditional Serbian folk dance as fireworks lit the skies above Belgrade on a warm evening. However the celebrations continued long into the night with Serbian flags were everywhere. Some of the chanting was nationalistic and demeaning of Nadal. ‘Are you watching this from Madrid, Rafa’, and ‘Keep practicing that backhand of yours,’ were popular taunts.
Serbia’s former Davis Cup coach Radmilo Armenulic enthused: “Young people are here in droves because they look up to this extraordinary young man and draw inspiration from his accomplishments. He is a role model and a true champion, finding the strength and willpower in his family and close friends, which is the best way to keep your life on the rails.”
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