Sabanov, who hails from Croatia, is ranked No. 128 in doubles and No. 923 in singles. The 28-year-old wasn’t a widely known entity up until the 2021 Serbia Open, where he claimed the doubles crown along with his twin brother Ivan Sabanov.
Matej Sabanov recently spoke with Alo, where he laid bare his reverence for Novak Djokovic. The Croat revealed that Djokovic has been his idol ‘throughout his career’, and that the World No. 1 often gives him useful advice.
“Novak Djokovic’s support is something that cannot be described in words,” Matej Sabanov said. “He has been an idol to us throughout our careers and his support means a lot to us. Every piece of his advice is extremely valuable and it is a great honor for us to have the opportunity to learn from him.”
Novak Djokovic offered us the best conditions for training: Matej Sabanov
The COVID-19 pandemic has made tennis training a very cumbersome and expensive ordeal for many lesser-ranked players, including Matej Sabanov. Novak Djokovic had, therefore, opened the doors of his Belgrade tennis academy late last year. The Serb invited several players from the Balkans to stay and train at the Novak Tennis Center, a gesture that was widely applauded in the tennis community.
Matej Sabanov has now revealed that he was one of the players invited by the World No. 1. The Croat highlighted how Djokovic ensured that all players received the best of facilities along with living arrangements, which made them feel extremely relaxed and comfortable.
“Novak Djokovic invited us last year to come to his club in Belgrade and make preparations for the next season there,” Sabanov said. “He offered us the best conditions for training, and that is what we desperately needed. After those preparations, he offered us to stay at his club and train there whenever we are not in tournaments. Because of all that, we felt like we were playing in our home club.”
During his interview, Matej Sabanov also revealed that he was born and brought up in Serbia until he was 15. The Croat has, therefore, been long-time friends with Filip Krajinovic, Dusan Lajovic, Nikola Cacic and Laslo Djere, all of whom are of a similar age.
“We were born and lived in Serbia until the age of 15, so the other Serbian players are our friends with whom we grew up.” Sabanov said. “Filip Krajinovic, Duci Lajovic, Nikola Cacic and Laslo Đere, these are all players from our generation that we know very well and with whom we have been friends since our junior days.”