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Saturday, 9 November, 2002, 03:26 GMT
Jiri Novak
Jiri Novak
Novak is flourishing late on in his career
Date of birth: 22/03/1975
Nationality: Czech
Grand Slams: none

Novak turned professional in 1993 but it took him nine years to break through into the world's top ten.

His success in 2002 stemmed from a surprise semi-final appearance at the year's first Grand Slam in Australia where he lost to eventual champion Thomas Johansson in a five-set thriller.

Signs of Novak's late blossoming were evident in 2001 when he grabbed two titles at Munich and Gstaad to bring his career tally to four.

But in 2002, though he did not win a title, dogged consistency led to him reaching his career-high world ranking of six.

The Monte Carlo resident made it to final of the Madrid Masters Series event and the last four of the Rome and Toronto Masters, as well as reaching at least the semi-finals stages in five other tournaments.

His performances earned him a place at the prestigious end-of-season Masters Cup for the first time in his career.

A solid player, with a level-headed attitude to match, Novak is proof personified that persistence always pays off.

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