Yshai Oliel (ISR) and Novak Djokovic (SRB)
Practicing with World No. 2 Novak Djokovic is one of the highlights of Israeli prospect Yshai Oliel’s fledgling tennis career, the 18-year old from Ramla admitted during Serbia’s Davis Cup by BNP Paribas quarterfinal clash with Spain in Belgrade.
Oliel, the 2017 Australian Open junior runner-up and the 2016 French Open boys' doubles winner, was invited by Djokovic to be his sparring partner throughout the April 7-9 weekend as 2010 Davis Cup winners Serbia took on five-time winners Spain.
“I was practicing at the Mouratoglou academy when they called my coach and told him that Novak wanted a left-handed player to practice with ahead of the Davis Cup clash with Spain,” said Oliel, still looking shell-shocked about his new role.
“They arranged everything and two hours later I boarded a plane and was on my way to Belgrade.”
Oliel became only the fourth Israeli to win a junior grand slam title when he claimed the French Open doubles, emulating the success of Dudi Sela, Anna Smashnova and Shahar Peer, all of whom went on to become Top 30 players.
Oliel’s ambitions stretch far beyond those limits and he knows what it takes to reach the giddy heights of men’s professional tennis.
“I hope to become one of the best players on tour one day but I know how hard I have to work to achieve that, he said.”
“Apart from Djokovic, I also admire Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray. I hope I will become a top player like them in a few years. I think my style of play is similar to Nadal’s, but my favourite is Djokovic’s.”
Oliel acknowledged that practicing with the winner of 12 Grand Slam titles was a priceless chapter in his bid to make an impact on the big stage in the near future.
“It is a great experience to practice with Djokovic because he plays the best tennis on the ATP Tour,” said the 18-year old talent with a broad smile on his face.
“I learned a lot from my first session with him, mainly that he does everything with 100 percent commitment. He is always focused and tries his best.”
“The moral is that I have to try as hard as he does every day and always be totally committed. Every game, every match and every practice session.”