Most junior grand slam players participate in at least one or two warm up tournaments before the actual grand slam – I was no different. I participated at the AGL Loy Yang Traralgon Junior International before the 2010 Australian Open Juniors. Right before the Aussie Open, the ATP and ITF announced a new rule for clothing— that the logos of all clothing brands should not be more than 3 inches in size. At that time, the logos on all my clothes were suddenly deemed “unfit” for the Aussie Open that I was scheduled to compete in the next couple of days. Being an Adidas endorser at that time, Adidas International called requested that I meet the Adidas representative of the Aussie Open at the Hyatt Hotel. I would never have imagined what lay in store for me.
Waiting in the lobby silently, I saw my all-time idol, Roger Federer walk by with his then coach, Peter Lundgren, his wife, Mirka, and the rest of his team. Some men’s and women’s pros passed by as well like Serena Williams, Andy Roddick, Fernando Gonzalez, and many more. About 10 min into arrival, a guy dressed in a black suit with an escort went up to me and introduced himself to me (I already forgot his name as I’m generally bad with names). We went up to one of the top floors and when the elevator door opened, the floor had escorts and the room doors had pros’ names in them such as, “Sharapova Suite”. As we were walking towards the very end of the corridor, I saw the name “Djokovic Suite” on the door. We entered.
As soon as I entered the door, I was shocked! There were no beds. Some furniture had been removed to make room for all the Adidas gear prepared for Novak Djokovic and other famous Adidas endorsers at that time such as Fernando Gonzalez and the likes. There were more than 100 pairs of shoes in and enormous amounts of apparel – too much for me to process. The Adidas representative first got two Adidas traveling bags (the ones with wheels) and placed an Adidas tennis bag in one of them. He proceeded to ask me what my shoe size was and I said 10.5. I can still remember his response to me, “Oh perfect! You have the same size as Novak!” He gave me 6 pairs. He then asked my shirt size, I said I was a large. He asked me if I prefer Djokovic outfit (yellow and black shirt with black shorts) or the Gonzalez outfit (white and blue shirt with grey and white shorts). I answered back with a questions asking if I could have both? But since I wasn’t (and till this day, still not) a fan of Djokovic, and was a great fan of the Gonzalez forehand, I asked if I could have more of Gonzalez’s outfit. He gave me about 10 Djokovic outfits and gave me about 15 of Gonzalez outfits. If I remember correctly, he gave me about 15 pair of wrist bands as well. He also asked if I wore a hat when I play. I said yes, so he gave me 10 caps. Socks – he gave me about 15 pairs as well. It was a surreal moment!
On the way out, I saw Adidas watches on one of the coffee tables so I thought I was gonna get those too—I apparently not! Haha. So at the end of the day I had two traveling bags full of Adidas clothes, escorted by the security on the way out, then rode one of Adidas’ shuttle cars to my hotel.
It was definitely one of my greatest experiences as a junior. #DreamBig