Miomir Kecmanovic is a man who knows what he wants. Despite his young age of 21, the Serbian has felt for a few months that his career has a lot more to offer.
The No. 41 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings decided he wanted to add someone to his team, but he wasn’t about to pick a name from a hat. Kecmanovic thought of former World No. 3 David Nalbandian, one of his favourites whom the Serbian has followed since he started playing tennis.
What happened next? Kecmanovic decided to write to him personally, tell him about his idea and to see how they could start working together. Having spoken several times over the phone, they finally met this week at the Cordoba Open to start a trial period together during the Latin American clay-court swing.
“It means a lot to me to have David with me now. He was one of the best of his generation and his experience could really help me a lot,” Kecmanovic told ATPTour.com after their first training session together. “I watched him play for many months on television. I remember a lot of his matches, seeing them on YouTube, when he beat the Big Three. That was incredible.
“I hope to be able to work with him a lot. He’s already mentioned some ideas to me. I hope to go far this week, but it’s important to learn, to be able to progress and we’ll gradually change and the results will take care of themselves.”
The Serbian will continue to work with longtime coach Miro Hrvatin. Is there anything in particular he’d like to copy from the Argentine?
“We’re hoping my backhand might be similar to his,” Kecmanovic said, cracking a laugh.
These are new experiences for Nalbandian, too. This is the first time he is back at a tournament as a coach.
“I’m happy to be involved in tennis again in some way, being with Miomir and trying to contribute and help with what they need and for him to grow as a player,” Nalbandian explained, adding that he had to search every nook and cranny of his house for his racquets because he couldn’t remember where he had put them. “They were in the garage,” he joked.
The former World No. 3 followed Kecmanovic’s recent matches on television and at their first meetings he chose to start building some chemistry.
“These days before the tournament we have to try and find some good feelings [so that you] feel comfortable and enjoy yourself. We’ll take it bit by bit, gradually adding more, better things,” the Cordoba native told his pupil.
“He’s a young boy with good potential and I’ll try to improve him as a player,” Nalbandian said. “It’s a way of trying a few weeks out, in Cordoba, Buenos Aires and Santiago and then we’ll look at the schedule.”
Since winning his first ATP Tour crown at the Generali Open in Kitzbühel last September, something changed for Kecmanovic. “I didn’t change anything specific, but it made me start to believe in myself more and to know that I belong to another level,” Kecmanovic said. “Now I’m very happy to have David and for him to join the team, I think he can help me a lot with my game and to keep improving. Hopefully together we can take the next step.
“It’s always nice to visit a new country and play a tournament for the first time… the idea of coming here was to start working with David, meet each other and to start working on things together”.
For the moment, Kecmanovic said he would like to become one of the Top 30 players in the world, but he is in no rush to get there. “My biggest dream is to be a Top 10 player, and to win a Grand Slam someday,” he admitted.
Meanwhile, off the courts, he has already received some words of wisdom from Nalbandian on the best beef in the world: “The beef is incredible here. It’s phenomenal and David took us to some places and he knows what’s good.”