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

Nikola Pilić
Nikola Pilić 1975.jpg
Pilić at the 1975 Dutch Open in Hilversum in July 1975.
Country (sports) Yugoslavia
ResidenceMunich, Germany
Born (1939-08-27) 27 August 1939 (age 79)
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)

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


Early lifeEdit

Pilić was born in Split, Croatian Banovina, Kingdom of Yugoslavia to Krsto Pilić and Danica Tomić-Ferić just five days before the outbreak of World War II, which began on September 1st, 1939 with the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany.

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 (viša škola) in Zagreb, but due to not meeting the entrance criteria ended up in Novi Sad where he studied administration (viša upravna škola).

Tennis careerEdit

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 Pilić 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 Năstase in three straight sets.[7]

Pilić was the catalyst to the 1973 Wimbledon Boycott. In May of that year the Yugoslav tennis federation alleged that Pilić had refused to represent them in a Davis Cup tie against New Zealand earlier that month. Pilić 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 Pilić's fellow professionals, organized into the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), and including 13 of the 16 seeds, withdrew from the 1973 Wimbledon championship.[8][9][10]


After retiring, Pilić began coaching and became the first captain to win the Davis Cup trophy for three different 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, Pilić married Serbian actress Mija Adamović.[12] The couple has children together.[13]

Grand Slam finalsEdit

Singles: 1 (1 runner-up)Edit

Outcome Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Runner-up 1973 French Open Clay   Ilie Năstase 3–6, 3–6, 0–6

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

Outcome Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Runner-up 1962 Wimbledon Grass   Boro Jovanović   Bob Hewitt
  Fred Stolle
2–6, 7–5, 2–6, 4–6
Winner 1970 US Open Grass   Pierre Barthès   Roy Emerson
  Rod Laver
6–3, 7–6, 4–6, 7–6


  1. ^ a b "Top Players Go For Cup", St. Petersburg Times, 31 January 1968.
  2. ^ Deutsche Welle Croatian language service 19 July 2010 Nikola Pilić – 'Prus sa Balkana'
  3. ^ United States Lawn Tennis Association (1972). Official Encyclopedia of Tennis (First Edition), p. 428.
  4. ^ Nikola Pilić: 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. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  10. ^ "Dark Fortnight For Wimbledon..." SI. 2 July 1973. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  11. ^ Grasso, John. Historical Dictionary of Tennis. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. p. 225. ISBN 978-0810872370.
  12. ^ Mija Adamović @
  13. ^ Četiri decenije sa Nikolom; Blic, 25 September 2010

External linksEdit