Ljubicic coaching Federer is bizarre: Djokovic

DOHA • Men's world No. 1 Novak Djokovic has admitted that it will be bizarre to see his friend Ivan Ljubicic coaching one of his greatest rivals, Roger Federer, this season.

"Yes! Honestly, yes," said the Serbian tennis star, when asked if he would find it strange to see the Croat as part of the Swiss legend's coaching staff.

"But you know, again, we are professionals."

It was announced last month that Ljubicic, a former world No. 3, would be hired in a move widely interpreted as Federer trying to find a way to defeat a dominant Djokovic, who won three Grand Slams last year and was also a finalist at the French Open.

"He (Ljubicic) knows my game, he knows the game of all Roger's opponents, and I think that's one of the reasons why Roger has hired him," said Djokovic, speaking in Doha ahead of his first tournament of the season, the Qatar Open, which began yesterday.

"Whether it's going to work or not, that's something to see for all of us, but I wish them all the best.

"He's a great guy, very calm, very composed, and I am sure Roger knows why he hired him."

Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam champion, has denied that the Croat has been hired just to help him overcome the Serb.

Djokovic also said that he was well rested from his winter break and was "very excited" to start again on the tour.

Given his performance last season, there has been speculation that he could become the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four Grand Slams in a single season.

There is also the extra prize of a "fifth Major" this season, with an Olympics gold medal up for grabs in Rio de Janeiro in August.

The Serb said he would play to win every match.

"Grand Slams and Olympic Games are the priority of the season, but it's a long season, so I can't really predict what's going to happen or guarantee if I am going to win any of the Grand Slams or all four," he said.

"Of course, I am going to try to win every tournament and every Grand Slam that I play in, that's kind of the mindset that I have."

Djokovic added that money was not a "priority" after it was revealed that he and Federer were in a race to become the first US$100 million (S$140 million) earners in tennis.

"Money is not really why I am playing this sport," he said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2016, with the headline 'Ljubicic coaching Federer is bizarre: Djokovic'. Print Edition | Subscribe