Melbourne, Australia, 24 November 2023 | Rhys de Deugd

Ymerali Ibraimi is one of Australia’s brightest junior prospects.

The 14-year-old from Victoria was a strong performer at the 2022 December Showdown, took part in a European junior tour with Tennis Australia earlier this year and attended the inaugural Talent Combine in Brisbane in September.

Ibraimi achieved a career-best result on the ITF Tennis World Junior Tour last week, progressing to his first singles final at a J30 tournament in Perth.

In our series profiling Australia’s most promising junior players, Ibraimi reveals his talents outside of tennis and his unique fan experiences …

How did you get started in tennis?

It started when I was able to walk. My dad would give me a little racquet and a balloon, and I would go in the garage and try to hit as hard as I could. Yeah, that’s how it all started.

Is your dad a big tennis fan?

Yes! My dad is an all sports fan, but mostly tennis because he loved watching all the players on TV, especially Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.

What do you enjoy about tennis?

I enjoy the competitiveness and the grind. Just running side-to-side on the court, I really enjoying the grind.

What has been the biggest highlight of your tennis journey so far?

The highlight would probably be, winning two tournaments in a row, in Melbourne. One in Frankston, one in Pakenham. That was one of the biggest moments of my tennis career.

Have you travelled much with your tennis?

Yes. Tennis Australia took me for a Europe trip and I really, really enjoyed the experience there. I was in France, Germany and Belgium.

What were the biggest lessons you learned from Europe?

That there’s more players out there than just playing in Australia, and that it’s a big competitive sport. It’s a worldly sport and you just got to be patient and and just work hard.

Have you modelled your game off any particular players?

Nick Kyrgios. Just big serve, forehand and backhand.

What do you like about Nick’s game?

Just the way he’s able to serve. Just serve all these games out super easily, and he’s also got great hands at the net.

Ymerali Ibraimi in action at the 2022 December Showdown. Picture: Tennis Australia

Ymerali Ibraimi in action at the 2022 December Showdown. Picture: Tennis Australia

What is your favourite tennis experience as a fan?

I’ve met Novak Djokovic at the AO when I was in the Super 10’s. He was training and we were going back to the same hotel. Then he was there and I said to him, “How’d you beat us back to the hotel?”. He said “I followed you”. To meet him was just such a great experience.

Do you go to the Australian Open often?

Yeah, very often. I go every year, sometimes for the camps. But, yeah, I also go there to watch. Watch all the players and really enjoy it and see it with my own eyes.

Do you have any favourite Australian Open memories?

Maybe hitting with one of the top Australians there, Max Purcell. He made the finals in doubles that year with Luke Saville. I saw them training and asked the coach if we could hit and he said we could. It was such a great experience to see those players at the net, just not missing.

When you are not playing tennis what do you like to do?

I like to stay home with family, play a bit of soccer. I’m not too bad of a soccer player myself. I play a bit of PlayStation, you know, that’s kind of the thing these days.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I’m a pretty good impersonator. My mind kind of picks up the talents of other people pretty quickly and I can impersonate it pretty well.

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