Tennis: Agassi says Djokovic's gritty third round win at French Open was a "great teachable moment"

Andre Agassi coach of Serbia's Novak Djokovic at French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, on June 2, 2017.
Andre Agassi coach of Serbia's Novak Djokovic at French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, on June 2, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS - For tennis great Andre Agassi, Novak Djokovic's five-set victory in the third round of the French Open on Friday (June 2) was a "great teachable moment", and the American believes the Serb has what it takes to survive if more of such scares occur.

Agassi, an eight-time Grand Slam winner, was unveiled last month as Djokovic's coach for the May 28 to June 11 French Open.

He entered Djokovic's box as the defending champion was trailing by a set and facing opponent Diego Schwartzman's serve at 3-4 in the second set. Djokovic, 30, then broke serve and won the set.

Admitting that missing the first one and a half sets of Djokovic's 3hr 18 min battle was unfortunate as it "sets the tone for what's about to happen in the match", Agassi added: "Not having that perspective, I was a little out of sorts to figure out early why we were even in this position.

"Because the truth is if you can do what Novak can do, and you do it the way he can and should do it, it should look a lot different.

"Nevertheless I put it all in perspective by the end … he's a spectacular player who can get through difficult times even if he's not necessarily on point but I think that match made him better in a lot of ways now."

The 47-year-old, who is a Longines ambassador, was speaking to media on the sidelines of the Longines Future Tennis Aces final in Paris on Saturday.

World No. 2 Djokovic faces left-handed Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the last 16 on Sunday.

Asked by The Straits Times what Djokovic must do to win that match and eventually the tournament for his 13th Grand Slam, Agassi was coy and said: "When you're out there in a tennis court, you have to know what it is that makes you good and you have to rely on it, or play better than you have to.

"That's one of the hardest things to do on a tennis court so quite frankly, Novak has to meet everybody where they are, (let them) introduce themselves and raise the stakes a little bit, and keep asking them to do a little bit more.

"I have a hunch he can do it easier than most of the people he plays."