Novak Djokovic and Mihailo Topic look to spur Serbia forward in the tennis world. (Mihailo Topic, Instagram)
Serbian tennis is in a curios place at the moment. Some of its biggest names—like Jelena Jankovic, Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki—are either ranked outside of the Top 30, or, in the case of Ana Ivanovic, recently retired.
Then of course there’s the biggest name of them all, Novak Djokovic. The 12-time Grand Slam winner continues to recover from an elbow injury and an all-around disappointing 2017 that had many questioning if he could ever recover his once-dominant form.
As Djokovic targets his December return, there’s yet another reason the future of Serbian tennis is starting to look bright again.
That future comes in the form of 8-year-old tennis prodigy Mihailo (pronounced ‘Milo’) Topic. Mihailo has caught the eye of the Serbian Tennis Federation and, most notably, Djokovic, who has decided to sponsor his development.
The discovery of Djokovic’s ex-coach Marian Vajda, young Mihailo is a few years ahead of schedule in terms of his training and technique. His coach Pavle Bulic also credits him with a photographic memory that helps him pick up new skills quickly.
The video evidence of Mihailo’s game demonstrates rock solid groundstrokes, some nifty footwork, and a return even Djokovic would envy. No wonder they call him “Little Nole.”
Here’s Mihailo wiping Djokovic off the practice court last year.
Mihailo isn’t competing at tournaments just yet—the plan is for him to start when he turns 10—but he is routinely beating children older and taller than he is in practice matches. So far, there’s every reason for Serbian tennis fans to hope they are looking at a worthy successor to Djokovic, who is himself looking to reassert his dominance atop the men.