Novak Djokovic

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For a man who has spent his entire life focused on tennis glory Novak Djokovic is a surprisingly extrovert character, scattering jokes like aces at a Wimbledon final.

A fan of languages, he speaks five – Serbian, English, French, German and Italian.

His impersonations of fellow players are also the stuff of Youtube legend. Particularly hilarious is his hair-flicking Maria Sharapova. Even the Russian ace, who is a friend, was forced to laugh.

The Wimbledon champion is such a goofball that when the Eurovision Song Contest rolled into his native Belgrade, he was a special guest. Novak started off the voting by throwing a big tennis ball into the crowd and sang a song about the Serbian capital.

Nole, as they call him, is big news in the city where he was born in 1987. He is the eldest of three boys born to restaurant owners Srdan and Dijana, who brought up their family in the conflict-torn Balkans.

As a youngster Novak sometimes practised in an empty swimming pool because he was scared to be on open court during bombing raids on the city.

Aged six, he was spotted by Jelena Gencic, a famous coach and talent scout who told his parents: "This is the greatest talent I have seen since (Yugoslav number 1) Monika Seles".

In his athletic, sporty family tennis was regarded as "a girls sport". Nevertheless his parents allowed him to work with Jelena - before agreeing to her suggestion that he be enrolled at tennis academy in Oberschleißheim, Germany from 12 years old.

By 14, he was on the international circuit and in 2006, the long-limbed Serb broke into the top 40. Around this time he started dating the love of his life Jelena Ristic, a pretty fellow high school student from Montenegro.

She was by his side in 2010 when he was diagnosed as intolerant to wheat, dairy and tomatoes - explaining his baffling mid-match collapses.

Being told to stop eating bread and cheese and cut down on tomatoes was not the best news for someone whose parents own a pizza restaurant, but Novak gave it a go.

The result has gone down in the annals of history. In 2011, he clinched the Australian Open, the US Open and Wimbledon, bending down to eat a blade of grass at the All England Club after the last point.

With success came sizeable financial rewards. His pay packet that year was $12million dollars - a new record for the most prize money won in a single season on the ATP World Tour. In 2014, he blasted Roger Federer off court to win Wimbledon once again.

The victory coincided with a special period in his personal life. He and Jelena announced their engagement and that she was expecting a few months before the historic match.
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