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Novak Djokovic pays tribute to former coach

Djokovic pays tribute to former coach
© AP Photos
Novak Djokovic hopes to win the French Open in memory of former coach Jelena Gencic, who died on Saturday.

Novak Djokovic has expressed his desire to win the French Open for his former coach Jelena Gencic, who died at the weekend.

Gencic, 77, suffered a heart attack on Saturday, but the news was kept from Djokovic until after his match against Grigor Dimitrov that evening in order to avoid distracting the world number one.

Gencic became Djokovic's coach when the Serb was just six years old, and the news of her death has spurred him on to try to win the tournament.

"It hasn't been easy, but this is life. Life gives you things, takes away close people in your life, and Jelena was my first coach, like my second mother. We were very close throughout my whole life, and she taught me a lot of things that are part of me, part of my character today, and I have the nicest memories of her," said Djokovic.

"This is something that will stay forever and hopefully I will be able to continue on and follow up where she stopped with her legacy, because she left so much knowledge to me and to the people that were close to her. She never got married, she never had kids, so tennis was all she had in life. She was 77 years old, and before she passed away two days ago, last week she was giving lessons to kids. She's one of the most incredible people I ever knew.

"I feel even more responsible now to go all the way in this tournament. I want to do it for her, also. I remember the last conversation we had two weeks ago about Roland Garros. She told me, 'Listen, you have to focus, you have to give your attention to this tournament. This is a tournament you need to win.' She was giving me this kind of inspiration and motivation even more. So now I feel in her honour that I need to go all the way."

Djokovic, who would complete a career Grand Slam with success at Roland Garros, reached the last eight of the tournament by beating Philipp Kohlschreiber this afternoon.

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Novak Djokovic celebrates beating Rafael Nadal in the final of the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters on April 21, 2013
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