Dino Prizmic was a huge underdog when he was drawn against Novak Djokovic in the first round of the Australian Open, but the 18-year-old Croatian certainly made a name himself after pushing the 24-time grand slam champion all the way in a four-hour epic.
Prizmic was playing in the main draw of a grand slam for the first time after battling his way through three rounds of qualifying at Melbourne Park this week, and his reward was a first-round match against the 10-time Australian Open champion Djokovic – who had not lost a match at this tournament since 2018.
But Djokovic, who is targeting a record 25th grand slam title in Melbourne this month, was forced to produce his best tennis in a physical match, battling to a 6-2 6-7 6-3 6-4 win in just over four hours.
It was the longest first-round match Djokovic has ever played at a grand slam and there was more than a hint of an upset on the cards as the underdog Prizmic, ranked 178th world, broke the World No 1 to lead the match midway through the third set.
But who is Dino Prizmic? Here’s everything you need to know about the teenage qualifier.
Who is Dino Prizmic?
Prizmic offered a glimpse of his talent when he won the junior Roland Garros title at the French Open last season, while he made his breakthrough on the ATP Challenger circuit – the level below the professional tour – when he won the title in Banja Luka.
But Prizmic still entered the season ranked 178 in the world and very much an unknown in the wider tennis world. The Croatian is from Split and came from the same tennis club where former Wimbledon champion – and Djokovic’s current coach – Goran Ivanisevic also learned how to play the game.
Prizmic, whose favourite shots are his heavy, aggressive forehand strike and serve, moved to Zagreb when he was aged 14. Fast forward to age 17, and after 11 months on the junior circuit, he had his first big breakthrough when he won the junior title at Roland Garros.
Prizmic, who is managed by former world No.3 Ivan Ljubicic, was only a ninth-ranked junior when he when the French Open title, defeating Bolivia’s Juan Carlos Prado Angelo on Court Simonne-Mathieu 6-1, 6-4 last June.
“For me, it’s a big achievement,” he said. “It’s my dream when I was kid. I am really happy for myself and for my team and my whole family to won this tournament.”
In winning the title, he followed in the footsteps of former US Open champion and compatriot Marin Cilic and it gave Prizmic confidence to win his first ATP Challenger title that same season.
Ahead of 2024, Prizmic set his ambitions on entering the world’s top 100 – but the Australian Open draw gave the 18-year-old a priceless opportunity and he certainly made the most of it on Rod Laver Arena.
What did Novak Djokovic say?
“He deserved every applause that he got tonight – amazing player, so mature for his age, he handled himself incredibly well. This is his moment, honestly. It could have been his match as well, he was a break up in the third set. He fought from 4-0 down [in the fourth set] and break points down, He showed great mentality and resilience.
“He made me run for my money tonight, that’s for sure. I have a lot of compliments for him. I love the way he uses every inch of the court, he’s comfortable to come in, he defends incredible well. Just an amazing performance for someone who is 18 years old and has never had experience on this stage.
“I want to be in his corner. He’s going to make some big things in his career, that’s for sure. We are going to see a lot of him in the future.”