The rise of Serbia as a powerhouse tennis nation is a freak. There is no logic to it, no rational explanation, no coherent programme that was put in place to produce fine young players like Ana Ivanovic – whose smooth progress to the second round I followed yesterday – and Jelena Jankovic and Novak Djokovic.
Nor do I buy into this thesis that Serbia is somehow uniquely poor, where the spur to play tennis as a means of escape was stronger than in any number of other places. With genuine respect and admiration for the players mentioned, their rise was not brought about by playing in an empty swimming pool, or having so little money that they had to eat their shoes and the only way to get another pair was becoming a pro.
It didn't happen like that. And when you examine how each of them developed the theme is the same: they had to get away. And credit to their parents and advisors that they did so, to places where they could develop their undoubted potential. Jelena came to us, at the academy in Florida. Novak went to Germany, Ana to Switzerland and Spain. Those are the places the potential was honed from hopefuls to realistic contenders.
So it's a freak, a geographical accident of talent, a cyclical swing that has led to a group of players emerging simultaneously. The effect of that will help Serbian tennis going forward. These guys are superstars back home now, and they will inspire a generation to pick up rackets, and we'll see the dividends of that later. But why it happened in the first place is a mystery.