Novak Djokovic hands six-year-old fan Kojiro Owaki a signed racket. (Screenshot from video clip posted on Kojiro’s Twitter account, @JiRo_NoSuKe)
Novak Djokovic‘s Serbia Open run did not end as well as expected, but his young fan got the ending that he hoped for in his trip to his idol’s home nation as he received a signed racket and shirt from the World No. 1.
Djokovic invited six-year-old fan Kojiro Owaki to the tournament and made sure that the Japanese kid had a great time – Kojiro sat courtside during the Serb’s matches and even had a one-on-one tennis session with him.
Djokovic eventually bowed out to Andrey Rublev as the World No. 8 handed him a rare bagel in the third set of the final, 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-0. But he still managed to brighten up young Kojiro’s day with his gifts.
In a video posted on Kojiro’s Twitter account, Djokovic could be seen signing a racket and handing it to Kojiro. The Serb drew a smiling face, signed it and wrote, “For Kojiro” with a heart symbol.
Djokovic’s signed racket (Screenshot from video clip posted on Kojiro’s Twitter account, @JiRo_NoSuKe)
The video also showed a photo of Djokovic posing with Kojiro as his young fan held the racket. In a separate picture, the six-year-old Japanese tennis player was beaming as he held a signed shirt from Novak.
Kojiro Owaki holds an autographed shirt from Novak Djokovic.
Kojiro wrote, “In Serbia, @djokernole gave Kojiro the best time. Thank you to everyone who warmly welcomed us in Serbia. I definitely want to come to Serbia again.”
Three days ago, Kojiro, along with his brother, eight-year-old Yunosuke, also handed a box of chopsticks and a couple of anime character Pikachu stuffed toys as gifts to his idol. In a separate video, Novak could be seen opening and appreciating the chopstick set, which bore his name and the rest of his family – wife Jelena and kids Stefan and Tara – in Japanese.
“That’s great. That’s beautiful. Thank you very much,” said Djokovic.
“You are a great champion, a great guy” – Novak Djokovic to Andrey Rublev
Novak Djokovic zeroes in on his title defense in Roland Garros later next month.
Novak Djokovic only had good words to say to opponent Andrey Rublev despite his Serbia Open final loss.
During his runner-up speech, Djokovic noted how Rublev was “a great champion and a great guy” and urged him to return to his home country to defend his title.
“Congratulations. You are a great champion, a great guy. And Belgrade and Serbia love you, so please come back to defend your title,” said Novak Djokovic.
Djokovic also extended his congratulatory message on Instagram and Twitter, saying, “Congratulations @andreyrublev, a pleasure to share the court and have you in Belgrade. Thank you to the entire @serbiaopen organization and the fans, family, and players that all made this event so special. See you next year.”
Rublev returned the favor by replying with three heart emojis on Djokovic’s Instagram post.
Despite the outcome in Serbia, Djokovic remains upbeat as he sets his sights on his Roland Garros title defense next month.