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Novak Djokovic left teenage tennis star fearful of ‘hoax’ after showing true intentions

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Teenage sensation Jakub Mensik was worried that he was the victim of a hoax after receiving an unlikely offer from Novak Djokovic. Mensik announced himself earlier this year when he reached the Qatar Open final and cracked the world’s top 100. After reaching the third round in Madrid, the 18-year-old and his coach explained how Djokovic “opened doors” for them.

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Mensik is currently the youngest player in the top 100, sitting at No. 74 in the world. The Czech star is enjoying a breakthrough season which really got going in Doha. He received a wildcard into the tournament as part of a Next Gen programme allowing young players a free pass into one ATP 250 event and made the most of it, storming into the final.

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The 18-year-old got his first top-five win over Andrey Rublev during his run, also beating the likes of Andy Murray and Gael Monfils before falling to Karen Khachanov in the championship match. And he enjoyed more success in Madrid, upsetting No. 9 seed Grigor Dimitrov en route to the third round, where he was forced to retire injured while facing Felix Auger-Aliassime.

As he continues to climb up the rankings and make his mark on the professional circuit, Mensik and his coach Tomas Josefus explained how Djokovic played a part in his success after selflessly reaching out to offer guidance. “We were taking stock when Jakub received a video on his phone from a Serbian number that he didn’t know,” his coach told L’Equipe.

“He did not hesitate to share his knowledge and contacts. We had closed doors in front of us, Novak opened them.” Mensik, who idolises Djokovic and hopes to face the 10-time Australian Open champion in Melbourne one day, originally thought it could be a scam.

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He added: “I first thought it was a hoax, but it was really him. Novak is my childhood idol, you can imagine my joy. Weight, lunch, recovery… Everything he did, I did. I understood a lot of things there. I observed him, I tried to analyse his functioning, how he warms up, stretches, recoveries. He recommended them (contacts) to us and gave us their number. Many things we put in place were thanks to him.”

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Mensik also got to learn first-hand from Djokovic when he trained with the world No. 1 ahead of Wimbledon in 2022, before the Serb went on to lift his seventh trophy at the All England Club. “It was before Wimbledon, so I was able to observe his specific preparation for a Grand Slam, all the little details of everyday life,” he explained.

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iveDjokovic’s assistance is clearly paying off, as Mensik is enjoying a series of impress firsts. He has already recorded his maiden match wins at Grand Slam and Masters 1000 level and reached his first tour-level final in Doha. Thanks to his impressive start to the year, Mensik is No. 39 in the Race to Turin – a set of rankings made up solely of points earned in 2024.

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