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Beginner’s Guide: Miomir Kecmanovic readies for a major moment at Roland Garros
Can Kecmanovic consolidate his breakthrough season with a deep run at a Grand Slam? Get to know the 22-year-old Serbian star in his first major tournament as a Top 32 seed.
Published May 26, 2022
WATCH: In a full-circle clash with Novak Djokovic, Kecmanovic pushed his childhood idol to three sets at home in Belgrade.
Though Novak Djokovic was ultimately absent from the 2022 Australian Open, there was still a Serbian star turning heads Down Under. Miomir Kecmanovic embraced the spotlight occupied by his childhood idol to kickstart what has been an unforgettable season. Sharing a section with world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, this Roland Garros fortnight nonetheless feels like the 22-year-old’s moment as he kicks off his first major tournament as a Top 32 seed.
Get to know Kecmanovic before his bid to make his first third round in Paris:
Where fellow Next Gen colleagues have made splashier breakthroughs, Kecmanovic has enjoyed a steadier rise since making his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal in 2019. Kecmanovic capitalized on opportunity as a Western & Southern Open lucky loser, upsetting countryman Laslo Djere en route to the last eight—where he acquitted himself well against Milos Raonic over two sets.
Though the global pandemic and ensuing lockdown threatened to thwart his momentum, Kecmanovic continued making gains in the ATP standings, capturing his first title and making his Top 40 debut.
The 2021 season began with news that Kecmanovic had hired David Nalbandian to serve on his coaching team.
“He has helped me out a lot. He has changed a lot of things,” Kecmanovic told ATPTour.com. “We have worked on a lot of stuff that I didn’t notice before. The way I try to construct the points, the way I think during the points and also my shot-making. He has had a major impact in all areas, really.
“He is a good person to look up to. To have someone who was so successful in your corner is really cool. Especially in the tough moments that you see him cheering for you, he brings out the best in me.”
The move has paid off in earnest this season, starting with an unexpected run to the Australian Open’s second week. Kecmanovic had been scheduled to face Djokovic in the first round before the world No. 1 was removed from the country due to his violation of its COVID-19 vaccine requirement.
“A week ago I was supposed to play the world No. 1 and didn't have much of a chance there, but now I'm in the last 16, so I'm happy that I was able to use this chance and that I've been playing some really good tennis,” he said after upsetting No. 25 seed Lorenzo Sonego.
Kecmanovic kept up his hard-court momentum throughout the Sunshine Swing, reaching back-to-back quarterfinals at the BNP Paribas and Miami Opens. At the latter, he played one of the best matches of the year against Carlos Alcaraz, who went on to win the title.
Why It Matters
In a full-circle meeting with Djokovic in Belgrade, Kecmanovic took the first set of their quarterfinal before falling in three, and pushed Rafael Nadal and Diego Schwartzman through subsequent defeats in Madrid and Rome.
While he didn’t match his first-quarter heights this spring, clay ought to be a natural surface for the Serb, who possesses a lethal combination of heavy topspin and relentless physicality.
His draw puts him up against two of the tour’s most anti-clay athletes in Alexander Bublik and, should he overcome Djere on Thursday, Medvedev—though the No. 2 seed is trying to make the most of Paris’ terre battue.
Kecmanovic came just short of a signature result on hard courts, and will have yet another opportunity on clay. Should he convert, he could soon find himself in more rarefied conversations that involve Djokovic: no longer his understudy, but his direct competition.