Damir Dzumhur is not just a gifted player. Aside from his on-court talent, there is a story behind that is worthy of an Oscar. He was born in Sarajevo on May 20, 1992 – exactly one month after the Serbian armed forces settled into the city. Over the next four years, it was estimated that more than 5,000 civilians were killed. No city suffered more during the gruesome Balkan War in the 1990s than the city of Sarajevo. The idea that a world-class tennis player could emerge from such brutality would have been a crazy one at the time, especially considering the fact that Bosnia was not even on the tennis map.
“On 4 May 1992 we had to leave our house. I was brought directly to the hospital. Snipers were firing from all sides, bombs were falling on the city. I still remember what the driver of the Red Cross vehicle carrying me to the hospital told me: ‘You’re a lucky mother. Not even one bullet hit you.’ Perhaps all these events were the beginning of Damir’s luck. The first days of his life were very distressing. Because of the ongoing war, we had to take all the newborn babies to a shelter during the bombardment. From the window of the hospital, I watched the buildings burn and the mothers who were leaving the hospital with their newborn babies. Damir was one of the last babies born before the hospital was completely abandoned,” recalls Zaneta, Damir’s mother.
While Zaneta fled her home with her newborn son to a safe area, Nerfid Dzumhur, Damir’s father, was forced to live the most grueling of situations. In the early 90’s, Nerfid would leave every morning to work just outside of the city; however, the day his son was born, because of unforseen military operations, he was not able to return back to his city. Ultimately, Nerfid was not able to reunite with his wife and finally meet his son until January of 1993.
As the military conflict began to relatively calm down, Nerfid decided to open a tennis school. This was where his first-born son had his first interaction with the sport – through picking up tennis balls and then hitting it with a racket.
In continuation of his remarkable story, Damir grew up to not only become a professional player but he had also ventured out into another field: acting. At the age of thirteen, Damir was given the opportunity to make his acting debut when the producers of the movie Grbavica (2006) arrived at his school to hire a local cast.
“They started visiting schools to recruit young kids because there were scenes in a classroom with students. We were around a total of 30 children. I did not have a very important role, but it was the beginning,” recalls Damir. After his film debut, Dzumhur was casted for the lead role in Sniper Valley (2007). The film, based on the Balkan War, soon placed him as a young star in the European cinema.
“The story was very hard. We shot in Sarajevo and I really enjoyed the experience. I earned my first paycheck of 8,000 euros, which back then was a lot of money. Then I starting getting more offers to do other films; but I was already playing junior tournaments at the time and tennis was my priority,” he says.
Damir Dzumhur made the decision to focus solely on his tennis career. Although he did not have great results in the beginning, he was still competing in different Future tournaments throughout Europe.
It was not until 2014 where he started to make a name for himself on the international tour. At the beginning of the season, he created a big opportunity for himself to shine again in the spotlight. At the Australian Open, Damir started to get a lot of attention from strangers as his storyline turned into an authentic Cinderella story; he had qualified for the main draw to become the first ever Bosnian to do so and then proceed to reach the third round.
In terms of ranking, one year after his memorable performance in Melbourne, he managed to sneak into the top 100 in the world for the first time in February 2015, placing himself at No. 87. Since then, Damir has been breaking personal records each month – he climbed to No. 23 (July 12, 2018), the best ranking spot of his career, yet.
Based on solid performances and specializing in hard court tournaments, Dzumhur has won three ATP titles, including the Russian double (Moscow and St. Petersburg) in 2017.
Damir Dzumhur is the best Bosnian tennis player in history and is, until now, the only player to have reached back-to-back semifinals at the Abierto de Tenis Mifel presentado por Cinemex.
Copyright © 2018 Mextenis, S.A de C.V. Todos los derechos reservados.
Paseo de los Tamarindos #400-A, Piso 28, Bosque de las Lomas, CP. 05120, Cuajimalpa, CDMX