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Marko struggling with great expectations


 

Originally published on: 01/05/12 00:00

Following in the footsteps of a famous sibling is proving a tough challenge for Marko Djokovic. As his older brother, Novak, bids to make history during the current clay-court season by becoming the first player for 43 years to hold all four Grand Slam titles, 20-year-old Marko is languishing at No.878 in the world rankings.

This week’s Serbia Open gave Marko another chance to make a breakthrough, but after being given a wild card he fell at the first hurdle, losing 6-3, 6-1 to the Italian veteran, Filippo Volandri. He was on court for less than an hour and did not force a single break point.

Marko has played in six tournaments this year and has won only two matches, both in the first round of Futures tournaments in Turkey in January. He missed most of last year because of a wrist injury, for which he had surgery.

Novak helps whenever he can and Marko said it was “a privilege” to have him as his brother. “He’s helping me a lot with advice,” Marko said. “He’s trying to push me to go more and more, to improve, to not make mistakes that he made in that stage of his life, though we cannot compare. He was already No.3 in the world when he was 20.”

Marko admits there is “a lot of pressure” being the younger brother of the world No.1. “Everybody expects you to be like your brother, which is really tough to achieve,” he said. “But I'm trying. I'm doing my best. For the last two years I’ve been trying to forget about it, to just put on one side that he's my brother. He's my older brother and nothing else.”

While their achievements remain very different, the two brothers’ game styles are similar. “We practised together and had a lot of the same coaches as well,” Marko said. “I was practising in Germany where he was practicing, with Niki Pilic. When he was young as well I was practising with his coach, so maybe that's why we have a similar style.”

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