Djokovic All Smiles With Agassi On Board
Serbian star welcomes Agassi to his team
Novak Djokovic has a familiar face in his corner this week in the build-up to Roland Garros, which gets underway on Sunday. With his pigeon-toed walk, former World No. 1 Andre Agassi has been drafted in to help the Serbian recapture his peak form and confidence.
Agassi has returned to top-level tennis for the first time since retiring at the 2006 US Open and Djokovic, the defending champion in Paris, has been all smiles in recent days.
”It feels like a new chapter,” said Djokovic, who admitted to talking to Agassi on the phone after each match at the Mutua Madrid Open and Internazionali BNL d’Italia. “I was very glad that he accepted to come in person to Paris and spend some time together.”
“He's someone that inspires me a lot,” said Djokovic. “That's one of the things I felt like I needed is new inspiration, someone that knows exactly what I'm going through on the court [and] off the court. He has been through all these transitions, he has been in my shoes before playing Grand Slams, being the best in the world, and facing all the challenges that are present in tennis, in professional sport.”
”We can relate to each other in many different ways from many different sides. That's why I'm very excited for him being here, because it's a great opportunity for me to learn.”
Djokovic announced on 5 May that he had parted company with three long-time members of his team - coach Marian Vajda, fitness trainer Gebhard Phil Gritsch and physio Miljan Amanovic. Former World No. 1 Boris Becker stepped down as Djokovic's coach at the end of 2016.
Having just turned 30, Djokovic is now hoping that Agassi can help him “rediscover what kind of approach is the right one.”
Agassi, who won two of his eight Grand Slam championship trophies over the age of 30, is back in familiar surroundings at the site of his 1999 triumph, when he completed a career Grand Slam. Last year, Djokovic became the eighth man in tennis history to win all four major titles with his first triumph at Roland Garros.
”Yesterday was obviously the first day, and we had two practise sessions together,” said Djokovic. “Then we had a very, very long conversation in the evening. Even though it was the first day, it felt like we knew each other for a very long time. We clicked and connected very fast.
”I was not rushing the process of getting a new coach, because I trust myself. I believe in my own abilities. I have been around long enough to know how to play tennis. So I gave it some time, and I was patient. Andre is a perfect fit for me now in every aspect. I'm trying to absorb as much of his wisdom and knowledge and experience that he tries to share with me.”
Djokovic begins his quest for a 13th Grand Slam championship crown against Spaniard Marcel Granollers. He’s been drawn in the same half of the draw as nine-time former titlist Rafael Nadal, who beat the World No. 2 in the Madrid semi-finals two weeks ago. “I definitely see him as probably the No. 1 favourite for this title… It's definitely [going to be] an interesting edition of 2017 Roland Garros. It's a long two weeks.”