Novak serves notice: Agassi remains head coach

BELGRADE • Novak Djokovic will keep Andre Agassi as his coach when he returns to action from an elbow injury which forced him to cut short his season in July.

"We can confirm that Agassi remains the head coach while Italian Marco Panichi will take over as the fitness coach and Argentine Ulises Badio is the new physio," the former world No. 1's press office said in a statement. "The only remaining issue is appointing a second coach and that will complete the staff accompanying Djokovic in 2018."

The Serb, who has won 12 Grand Slam titles but suffered a year-long dip in form before the injury forced him to retire against Czech Tomas Berdych in the Wimbledon quarter-finals, is expected to return at the Australian Open in January.

After winning his maiden French Open title last season to complete a career Grand Slam, his on-court struggles meant he surrendered top spot to Briton Andy Murray in November last year.

That slump led him to cut his coaching ties with Boris Becker and, following a shock second-round exit at the Australian Open, he parted ways with his entire training staff headed by Marian Vajda.

Djokovic brought eight-time Major champion Agassi on board in May and they worked together for two months. But he failed to make it past the quarter-finals at either the French Open or Wimbledon before taking the rest of the season off.

The 30-year-old, ranked world No. 6, is still nursing his elbow injury and has spent several days in Belgrade for some fitness training.

"He is working hard to get started with tennis practice as soon as possible in order to meet his own expectations of making a comeback in Australia in 2018," the statement added.

REAPING THE REWARDS

He came with excitement and also the belief that with a few things, I could improve my results. And it has helped.

RAFAEL NADAL, on how the addition of Carlos Moya, the 1998 French Open champion, to his coaching team has helped revitalise his career.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal said the addition of fellow Spaniard Carlos Moya to his coaching team has added freshness and positive energy to his training routine.

Moya, a former world No. 1, joined Nadal's team to work with the player's uncle Toni Nadal last December and has helped revitalise the 31-year-old's career.

Plagued by injuries and a loss of form in the past two years, Nadal regained the top ranking and won his 10th French Open title and third US Open this year.

"Carlos has been a great support. He came with excitement and also the belief that with a few things, I could improve my results. And it has helped," Nadal told Spanish newspaper El Espanol.

"It has been a breath of fresh air, positive energy. We have changed the way we practise and for Toni it has been also good."

The 16-time Major champion will play in Beijing and Shanghai next month as he looks to secure the year-end No. 1 ranking.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2017, with the headline 'Novak serves notice: Agassi remains head coach'. Print Edition | Subscribe