The teenager from Sombor, who turns 17 in February next year, has left for Mexico, where he begins his appearance at the Cancun event, for which he has been granted a wildcard. His parents, mother Vera and father Stipan, say their son confirms he will be participating in the tournament, despite blisters on his right foot.
The future tennis star from Serbia was the talk of the town in Tennessee last week. The hype has encouraged the organizers of the Mexico-based Challenger to allocate the Serb to the main draw, instead of the qualifying round, which means Krajinovic plays his first match – before which he hopes to fully heal the foot – against Spain’s Miguel Angel Lopez.
“We heard from him after the semi-final match against Bobby Reynolds. He said, “Mom, I’ll have to play through the injury, I don’t want do be a coward. The big toe on his foot was bleeding, but he still went out there and played the match. He couldn’t win, but he at least tried,” says Vera.
“Agassi from Sombor”, as he is already dubbed by many, is a great fan of former number one Roger Federer. Although experts at Nick Bollettieri’s tennis academy in Bradenton, Florida, are comparing him with US tennis legend Andre Agassi, Filip discovered his role-model in the Swiss giant.
"From age 3 it was clear to us he would be into tennis. It came as something natural, because both my husband Stipan and his brother Sinisa – one of Filip’s first coaches – played tennis in their own time. Filip would swing a racquet all over the place as a child, breaking light bulbs, mirrors, and who knows what, but it was a sign of things to come. He began training in the Tennis Club Zak at the age of five, coached by Josip Molnar, while as of last year he’s been with Nick Bollettieri and his academy in Florida. He kept talking about Federer, while nowadays he also likes Andy Roddick’s style of play and the way Pete Sampras once played,” says Krajinovic’s mother.
The turning point of the youngster’s career was the Orange Bowl event, where he was spotted by the US tennis guru and his associates. In early March 2007 Krajinovic was summoned for a meeting, while in mid-July he packed his bags and set for the prestigious tennis academy.
“Filip has always been full of confidence. He doesn’t like to lose and has strong motivation to succeed. At the Orange Bowl he lost out to Barnard Tomic, but his potential was spotted and they decided to call him over. He has never lost a match in Serbia. He would often just apply for an event, go there and pick up the prize money or goods, such as a mobile phone. He would just turn up and say, ‘Dad, here, have this, I won it for you’,” Vera speaks with pride.
Filip’s father Stipan says his son is emotionally extremely stable and that he has displayed enormous potential.
“Filip is not that physically strong. It’s true, he still has to strengthen his body, but there’s plenty of time for that. What matters is that he manages to keep a cool head, which is of utmost importance in tennis. I naturally expect him to have a successful tennis career, but I don’t subscribe to all of that happening too fast at any cost. There’s time for the top 100 – all in good time. They know their job here in Florida and we don’t interfere with the work of Filip’s coaches and agents. They invest money in him and so far everything has gone perfectly well,” says Stipan Krajinovic.
Unlike many of his peers at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, Filip lives there alone and comes to Serbia twice a year or when he has to appear for the Serbia team.
“While the rest of them have parents at their side, he is alone. It’s hard on us, as we get to see him two times a year. He stayed for a while this summer, while he usually comes for Christmas and New Year, plus a couple of days when he plays for the national team,” says Vera Krajinovic.
If Filip continues like this, a day is nearing when we will see his parents sitting in the VIP boxes at Wimbledon, US Open or Roland Garros, and their son lifting the world’s most precious pieces of tennis silverware.