Tennis: Novak Djokovic sacks coaching team in 'shock therapy' move

Novak Djokovic has sacked his coaching team and said he will continue on his own until he finds the right head coach.
Novak Djokovic has sacked his coaching team and said he will continue on his own until he finds the right head coach.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Novak Djokovic has announced he will part company with three of his long-time coaching staff with immediate effect.

A statement on the Serbian tennis star's website yesterday confirmed that coach Marian Vajda, fitness coach Gebhard Phil Gritsch and physiotherapist Miljan Amanovic will end their association with him after "a detailed analysis of the game, achieved results in the previous period and also after discussing private plans of each team member".

It continued: "Despite the fantastic cooperation so far, Djokovic felt he needed to make a change, and to introduce new energy in order to raise his level of play."

Djokovic added: "I am forever grateful to Marian, GG and Miljan for decade of friendship, professionalism and commitment to my career goals. Without their support I couldn't have achieved these professional heights."

Slovakian Vajda is a former professional who began coaching Djokovic in 2006 before being replaced by Boris Becker.

Vajda remained part of the coaching team, however, and was with Djokovic at last week's Monte Carlo Masters, where he was beaten in the quarter-finals by David Goffin.

"Time spent with Novak feels like a whole lifetime," said Vajda. "We were part of many of his incredible achievements, we were living and breathing for his dreams. I gave everything I could as a coach and I am very proud of our results.

"We arrived to the point where we all realised we need new energy in the team. Novak can do so much more and I am sure he will."

Last November, Djokovic enlisted the help of former Spanish tennis player Pepe Imaz, who preaches a philosophy of amor y paz (love and peace) as central to his coaching.

In his statement, the world No. 2 added that he believes this "shock therapy" will help him achieve better results, although he intends to take his time before selecting a new coach.

"I want to continue raising the level of my game and stamina and this is a continuous process," said Djokovic. "I enjoy this journey, it feels like I am starting something new again and I love this challenge. I am a hunter and my biggest goal is to find the winning spark on the court again.

"I have so much faith in this process and that's why I will take time to find the right person who I can connect with professionally. I have been on the tour long enough to know how to manage daily routines and I don't want to rush my decision.

"I will be on the tour alone for a while with support of my family and management. I will inform the public when I find the right person, but for now I thank you for your support and understanding."

Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova could face one of her bitter rivals in the second round of next week's Madrid Open as she continues her bid to secure a berth at the French Open and Wimbledon.

If she gets past Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the first round, she will encounter either Eugenie Bouchard or Alize Cornet - both of whom have been opposed to her receiving wild cards to enter events following her return from a drug ban.

Last week, Canadian Bouchard said she thought Sharapova should have received a life ban for testing positive for meldonium. French player Cornet expressed her unhappiness that some WTA officials supported the Russian's comeback.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2017, with the headline 'Djokovic sacks coaching trio in surprise 'shock therapy' move'. Print Edition | Subscribe