But if you have to pick just one essential starting point, perhaps it is best to drive south from the capital toward the still-disputed border with Kosovo and follow the serpentine mountain road to Kopaonik, Serbia’s leading ski resort. Like so much of this diminished nation, Kopaonik has seen better days and is preparing to see them again.
It was here that Novak Djokovic’s family, much more familiar with schussing down slopes than hitting balls over nets, once operated several small businesses — including a pizzeria, a sports equipment shop and an art gallery — on the ground floor of a large complex during the winter and summer. And it was here that the state-owned Yugoslav company Genex, which developed much of Kopaonik, chose to build three tennis courts just across the parking lot from where the Djokovics opened their Red Bull restaurant in the late 1980s.
Now full of cracks, holes and undulations, the green hardcourts are hardly a playground for the elite. It is hard to believe that the world’s third-best player, the man who held off Roger Federer at the United States Open in September, emerged from this.
As the excerpt from last year’s New York Times article describes, above are the home court of the current world’s best tennis player, Novak Đoković. On Sunday morning we took the kids and rented the courts for for 8 euros. We were the only ones there early in the morning and it was cool to play on courts where Nole got his start. Nadia and I played a set and the kids played around. She got off to a quick 5-1 start, and it looked liked I was going to lose. I then looked for inspiration in the Kopaonik pine trees and mountain landscape and made a Đoković-like comeback to win 7-5. I also think the reporter from the NY Times was a bit melodramatic with his description of Kopaonik and Serbia. It is quite nice there!
We made it back safely from the mountains and are now back in Belgrade. We had a bit of trouble with the brakes coming down from a high elevation, but after a consultation with our maintenance man Goran, the car settled down and made it home. The kids were good while we were waiting for a solution to the problem. They are shown below all watching a movie on Nadia’s iTouch. I was a fantastic weekend! Hopefully Novak can win the final tonight in the US Open. All of Serbia is watching!