Nikola Pili%C4%87
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Nikola Pili%C4%87

Nikola Pili?
Nikola Pili? 1975.jpg
Pili? at the 1975 Dutch Open in Hilversum in July 1975
Country (sports) Yugoslavia
ResidenceMunich, Germany
Born (1939-08-27) 27 August 1939 (age 81)
Split, Croatian Banovina, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Height1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)
Turned pro1968 (amateur tour from 1960)
PlaysLeft-handed (one-handed backhand)
Career record270-201
Career titles9
Highest rankingNo. 6 (1968, Lance Tingay)[1]
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open3R (1970)
French OpenF (1973)
WimbledonSF (1967)
US OpenQF (1973)
Professional majors
US ProQF (1968)
Wembley ProQF (1968)
French ProQF (1968)
Career record143-134 (Open era)
Career titles6
Grand Slam Doubles results
Australian OpenQF (1970)
French Open4R (1969, 1976–77)
WimbledonSF (1975)
US OpenW (1970)

Nikola "Niki" Pili? (born 27 August 1939) is a Croatian former professional tennis player who competed for SFR Yugoslavia.

He was one of the Handsome Eight.[2] Pili? was ranked world No. 6 in January 1968 and world No. 7 for 1967 by Lance Tingay of The Daily Telegraph.[1][3]

Early life

Pili? was born in Split, Croatian Banovina, Kingdom of Yugoslavia to Krsto Pili? and Danica Tomi?-Feri? just five days before the outbreak of World War II that began on the 1st of September 1939 with the German invasion of Poland.

The youngster took up tennis during the summer of 1952.[4] Thirteen years of age at this point, he began practicing on the Firule tennis club clay courts in parallel to studying shipbuilding at the streamlined high school in Split. Upon graduating he attempted to enroll at a community college (vi?a ?kola) in Zagreb, but due to not meeting the entrance criteria ended up in Novi Sad where he studied administration (vi?a upravna ?kola).

Tennis career

Pilic reached the semi finals of Wimbledon 1967, beating Roy Emerson before losing to John Newcombe.[5] Then open tennis arrived and Pilic was one of the Handsome Eight, a group of players signed by Lamar Hunt in 1968 for the newly formed professional World Championship Tennis (WCT) group.[6]

In 1970, Pili? won the men's doubles title at the US Open together with his French partner Pierre Barthès by defeating the Australians John Newcombe and Rod Laver in four sets. His best singles performance at a Grand Slam tournament came in 1973 when he reached the final of the French Open but lost to Ilie N?stase in three straight sets.[7]

Pili? was the catalyst to the 1973 Wimbledon boycott. In May of that year, the Yugoslav tennis federation alleged that Pili? had refused to represent them in a Davis Cup tie against New Zealand earlier that month. Pili? denied the charge, but was suspended by the federation, and the suspension was upheld by the ILTF, albeit decreased from nine months to one month, meaning that he could not enter the Wimbledon Championships. In protest at the suspension, 81 of Pili?'s fellow professionals, organized into the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), and including 13 of the 16 seeds, withdrew from the 1973 Wimbledon Championships.[8][9][10]

Grand Slam finals

Singles: 1 (1 runner-up)

Result Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Loss 1973 French Open Clay Romania Ilie N?stase 3-6, 3-6, 0-6

Doubles: 2 (1 title, 1 runner-up)

Result Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Loss 1962 Wimbledon Grass Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Boro Jovanovi? Australia Bob Hewitt
Australia Fred Stolle
2-6, 7-5, 2-6, 4-6
Win 1970 US Open Grass France Pierre Barthès Australia Roy Emerson
Australia Rod Laver
6-3, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6

Grand Slam singles performance timeline

(W) Won; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (A) absent; (NH) not held. SR=strike rate (events won/competed)
Tournament 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 SR
Australian Open A A 2R A A A A A A A 3R 2R A A A A A A A A 0 / 3
French Open A 4R 2R 3R 4R 3R A A A 2R A 1R A F A 3R A 1R 2R 0 / 11
Wimbledon 2R 3R 2R 1R 2R A 1R SF 1R 1R 2R 3R A A 3R 1R 4R 3R A 0 / 15
US Open A A 1R A A 1R A 3R 4R 3R 4R 4R 4R QF A A A A A 0 / 9
Strike rate 0 / 1 0 / 2 0 / 4 0 / 2 0 / 2 0 / 2 0 / 1 0 / 2 0 / 2 0 / 3 0 / 3 0 / 4 0 / 1 0 / 2 0 / 1 0 / 2 0 / 1 0 / 2 0 / 1

Note: The Australian Open was held twice in 1977, in January and December.


After retiring from playing tennis professionally, Pili? began coaching and became the first captain to win the Davis Cup trophy for three nations: Germany in 1988, 1989 and 1993, Croatia in 2005 and Serbia in 2010. He's been working with Serbia Davis Cup team in the adviser role since 2007, and won the Davis Cup title in 2010.

He runs a tennis academy in Oberschleißheim near Munich where he resides. Professional champions such as Michael Stich, Novak Djokovic, Ernests Gulbis and Anastasija Sevastova developed and came through the Pilic academy.[11]


In 1970, Pili? married Serbian actress Mija Adamovi?.[12] The couple has children together.[13]

In 2020 he was awarded the Golden medal of merits of Republic of Serbia.[14]


  1. ^ a b "Top Players Go For Cup", St. Petersburg Times, 31 January 1968.
  2. ^ Deutsche Welle Croatian language service 19 July 2010 Nikola Pili? - 'Prus sa Balkana'
  3. ^ United States Lawn Tennis Association (1972). Official Encyclopedia of Tennis (First edition), p. 428.
  4. ^ Nikola Pili?: Krao sam novac od majke da kupim reket;Blic, 29 May 2011
  5. ^ "Wimbledon 1967".
  6. ^ Wind, Herbert Warren (1979). Game, Set, and Match : The Tennis Boom of the 1960s and 70s (1. ed.). New York: Dutton. pp. 65-70. ISBN 0525111409.
  7. ^ Collins, Bud (2010). The Bud Collins History of Tennis (2nd ed.). [New York]: New Chapter Press. pp. 389, 478. ISBN 978-0942257700.
  8. ^ John Barrett, ed. (1974). World of Tennis '74. London: Queen Anne. pp. 15-17, 45-47. ISBN 978-0362001686.
  9. ^ "The History of the Championships". AELTC. Archived from the original on 27 June 2011. Retrieved 2012.
  10. ^ "Dark Fortnight For Wimbledon..." SI. 2 July 1973. Retrieved 2012.
  11. ^ Grasso, John (2011). Historical Dictionary of Tennis. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. p. 225. ISBN 978-0810872370.
  12. ^ Mija Adamovi? @
  13. ^ ?etiri decenije sa Nikolom; Blic, 25 September 2010
  14. ^ "Sve?ana ceremonija dodele ordenja povodom Sretenja VIDEO". (in Serbian). Retrieved 2020.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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