British flirtation may end in dose of Djokovic-mania

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The Independent Online

Dijana Djokovic, chic and tanned, settled back in her chair as the head settled on her Guinness in one of the court-side bars. "It is my favourite," she said with a smile that had barely left her face since seeing her boy Novak - the youngest in the draw at just 19 years and one month - reach the third round by disposing of Spain's 11th seed, Tommy Robredo, 7-6, 6-2, 6-4.

It was another impressive performance from Andy Murray's sometime doubles partner and longtime mate, following his outstanding part in Serbia's Davis Cup defeat of Britain in April and subsequent feat of reaching the quarter-finals of the French Open unseeded.

Along with Murray - who is exactly a week older than him - and France's Gaël Monfils, Djokovic is one of the game's young Turks. And there are strong rumours that his dynamic matchplay might soon be employed for Britain, where administrators within the Lawn Tennis Association are looking nervously ahead to a post-Henman, post-Rusedski era.

Murray is already making unwilling noises about playing in the Davis Cup - his participation in next month's crucial match against Israel is far from certain. So what to do? According to Djokovic, the LTA people were ever so friendly after the April Davis Cup match in Glasgow. "They were making jokes," Djokovic recalled. "They were saying: 'We would love to see you in our team.' Stuff like that." His mother did not rule out a move to Britain from their home in Belgrade. The family also owns a mountainside pizza restaurant in the resort of Kopaonik.

"I don't want to say yes, and I don't want to say no," said Dijana, whose younger boys Marko, 14, and Djordje, 10 are also highly promising players back home. "We are trying to find the best situation for our family. We want to find the best conditions for our boys to play tennis in because they are all so good.

"Serbia will always be our country and we love it. But we are looking for the best option for our kids.

"We have given 10 years of our life to helping Novak. Our federation does not have the money to help us, so the family has to pay the money. The federation is making the first steps now. They are trying. But it's not enough. We don't have time. The Great Britain federation have a lot of money, and they can support all the kids. They really invest in them."

Under the rules, it would be three years before Djokovic could play for another Davis Cup team, assuming he had his new passport and had lived in his adopted country for two years. But the advantages of a new regime could be felt immediately.

Intriguingly, the young Serbian reckons he is "more aggressive" than the young Scots. There was a decent drama halfway through the concluding set as he accused his opponent of employing deliberate delaying tactics. But the Serbian's big-match temperament held good as his family looked on - mother biting her finger, then clenching her fist in the air, father Srdjan chewing his gum so rapidly that he might have been appearing on speeded-up film and little brother Djordje offering fierce tactical advice from under his red baseball cap.

"Great Britain is looking for heroes," she said. "They need to find someone. Yesterday on TV I see that Henman is gone and it is all 'Murray-mania'." And in a few years' time, perhaps, could we be witnessing "Djokovic-mania"? Dijana smiles again. Guinness may not be the last thing she grows to appreciate within these shores.