The country of Serbia is known for being a stabilizing presence in Eastern Europe, particularly the southern portion. However, Serbia is also well known for producing some of the best tennis players in the world compared to tennis players from other countries. Serbia is a “tennis powerhouse,” according to A CNN article. In fact, some have dubbed rising Serbian tennis players “Serb and Volley” because of how much astounding tennis talent comes from the country.
Many believe that the strength that comes from rising above adversity drives Serbian athletes to soar in their respective sports, especially tennis. Whatever the reason, there is no denying that tennis players from Serbia are a force to reckon with. Here are the top 10 Serbian tennis players of all time.
1. Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic is the indisputable owner of the crown for Serbian tennis players. Born in 1987, Djokovic is globally ranked as the seventh leading player in singles by the Association of Tennis Professionals. In 2008, he cinched his first notable title when he won the Australian Open, beating out Roger Federer.
As the years went on, Djokovic grew into an even better player. By 2010, he was recognized to be on equal par with Federer and Rafael Nadal as one of the best male tennis players in the world. By 2011, he was widely regarded as the world’s top tennis player, breaking dozens of tennis-playing records along the way. Although Djokovic went pro in 2003, it didn’t take long for him to dominate the world of tennis. To this day, he is still top tennis royalty.
2. Monica Seles
Though now retired, Monica Seles once ruled the world’s tennis courts and began doing so from a young age. When she was 16, she claimed a well-earned victory at the French Open by earning the championship title. For the next two years, Seles held down the spot as the top-ranked tennis player in the world.
In a short amount of time, Seles became an unbeatable tennis phenom. During her professional playing years, she racked up no less than eight single Grand Slam titles. She accomplished these admirable feats by the tender age of 20.
However, tragedy struck Seles on the court. In April 1993, she was attacked and stabbed by an overzealous fan of a rival player. The incident caused Seles to take a temporary leave from competitive tennis. She eventually made her way back to the courts, but her injuries prevented Seles from playing the same as before.
Seles retired from professional tennis in 2008 and joined the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009 as an inductee. She is still regarded as a major influence for current and future female tennis players.
3. Momcilo Tapavica
One of Serbia’s greatest tennis stars was Momcilo Tapavica. In fact, he could be considered a forerunner of what would someday become a major hub of future tennis greats.
Tapavica was born in 1872 and was a consummate athlete. While he played and excelled at many types of sports, he brought fame to Serbia by winning the Olympic bronze medal for tennis in the summer of 1896. Later on, Tapavica went on to become a revered architect. Many of his architectural contributions can still be found throughout the city of Porec, Croatia.
4. Ana Ivanovic
Ana Ivanovic’s tennis game is so stellar that she made Time Magazine’s women’s legend list in 2011. However, she got her start a bit before that honor. Born in 1987, Ivanovic gained attention when she almost beat Venus Williams at the Zurich Open in 2004.
This put the world on notice that she was a formidable tennis player. By 2008, Ivanovic had won the French Open and kept the top spot for the next 3 months. This officially made her a top-ranked tennis player.
Throughout her career, she has earned numerous championship titles and acclaim, including a Grand Slam title in the singles category. Ivanovich also has the distinction of being in the top 25 tennis players that have earned the most money. In short, she’s a multi-millionaire — as well as a total legend.
5. Jelena Janković
Jelena Janković burst onto the competitive tennis scene and took the world by storm by dominating the U.S. open in 2008. In fact, she was one of the finalists of the event. During her career, she racked up many championship titles. In 2007, she and Jamie Murray won the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon.
Between 2007 and 2008, she also scored a whopping 15 Women’s Tennis Association singles titles and managed to achieve the top spot of number one in the global ranks. Recently retired (2022), she stands as one of Serbia’s top tennis players of all time.
6. Janko Tipsarević
When Janko Tipsarević hit his stride, he ended up with a global ranking of the top eight singles tennis player in 2012. Additionally, he also managed to beat the Serbian tennis G.O.A.T. Novak Djokovic. Not once. Twice. However, he was cleaning up titles on the tennis court way before that.
In 2001, Tipsarević claimed the winning junior title in the Australian Open. From there, his tennis skills just grew sharper. Throughout the course of his career, he has won more than 22 collective titles, including from competitions such as Futures, Challenger, ATP doubles, and ATP World Tour. In 2011 and 2012, Tipsarević was also a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Open.
7. Daniel Nestor
Although Daniel Nestor is Serbian born, he is one of the biggest sports heroes of Canada. When Nestor was four, his parents moved to Toronto. However, the Serbian fire of expert tennis playing was already glowing.
Born in 1972, Nestor broke countless records in competitive tennis, which included scoring a gold medal during the Sydney Olympics in 2000. While he got the Olympic gold, he was also busy compiling other awards. Nestor was a hands-down winner of the Tour Finals, Masters event and every other major award that could be bestowed on a competitive tennis player.
For 24 years (1994 to 2018), his rank could not be bumped from the top 100. Nestor finally retired in 2018 after playing competitive tennis for almost 30 years.
8. Filip Krajinović
By April 2018, Filip Krajinović had attained a world rank of the 26th leading tennis player. When debuting at the Serbia Open in 2009, he fell short of his anticipated win. However, there were better things to come for this talented tennis player.
In 2017, Krajinović played in the Paris Masters tournament and ended up in the 1000 final for the event. Later on, he joined the Serbian National Team and competed in the semifinals of the Davis Cup.
Currently, Krajinović is still competing and works on raising his star tennis player’s stature one event at a time. In the meantime, he is one of Serbia’s brightest stars when it comes to competitive tennis.
9. Dušan Lajović
Although Dušan Lajović is one of the newer additions to list of greatest Serbian tennis players, it doesn’t make him any less worthy of listable respect. Born in 1990, Lajović has already made a name for himself in the tennis world.
When on the ATP tour, he won a singles and a couple of doubles titles. As he played, he got himself to the 23rd place in the world rankings of tennis players.
Lajović is well known for being extremely loyal to raising the profile of Serbian tennis teams. In 2019, he won a singles tournament at the Croatia Open. In 2020, he won most of the ATP Cup matches. While he is still an active player, Lajović has already made an indelible mark in the talented world of Serbian tennis players.
10. Miomir Kecmanović
Miomir Kecmanović is the youngest player on the list, but he has earned enough accolades to belong to it. In 2019, he was a fierce competitor and placed as the 161th tennis player in doubles. However, Kecmanović recently hit a career best of a 30th world ranking (2022).
Kecmanović still has a lot of tennis games to play and master. While he continues to win tournaments and challenges (including Challenger, as well as ATP doubles and singles challenges), he is still making big strides in the competitive tennis world.
Although he went pro in 2017, Kecmanović shows great promise and his future is extremely bright. With his talent, he will surely stay on the list of Serbia’s greatest tennis players of all time.