If things couldn’t already be bad for Novak Djokovic, times are getting harder for the Serbian tennis star. Djokovic split ways with Andre Agassi AND Radek Stepanek. As of right now, the former ATP #1 has no coach and likely to be losing his direction on the tour.
Djokovic Split: Andre Agassi as Coach
I don’t really know where to start with this one. Agassi as a coach? A coach to Djokovic? All this seemed so weird to begin with. I don’t know what Agassi could have added to Djokovic’s game; sure Agassi was one of the greatest American tennis players in the Open Era with all sorts of awesome accomplishments (Career Grand Slam + Olympic Gold Medal). Though it just seemed that he was not going to offer anything especially helpful to the struggling Serbian.
There wasn’t really any sort of mention as to why they split other than a one liner on Djokovic’s website:
“The cooperation between Novak and Andre Agassi has also ended.”
That is very very elusive. I feel like there was something there that might have happened and won’t be publicized. Strange, really.
My theory on the Djokovic Split with Agassi…Agassi has no idea what his role was as a tennis coach! I never really saw any real involvement from Andre; he just seemed to be a stand in while the Djokovic camp desperately figured out how to get the sinking ship back to buoyancy. Sure, Agassi looked good on court with the former #1 but there was no positive results.
In fact, I think that Agassi might have done more harm than good. Djokovic’s new, shortened, service motion is trash. He can barely get good serve placement and he’s dropped a few MPH’s since switching to the shortened motion. I know, I know, Novak’s elbow is still in recovery…but really the changed motion looks uncomfortable for Novak Djokovic.
On top of the service motion change, it appears that Andre Agassi was clueless as the coach. So much so, he apparently spent quite a bit of time calling his own former coaches, Brad Gilbert and Darren Cahill. Watch the video below:
At the very end (I have it timestamped) where you can hear Cahill say “Stop calling us on the phone if that’s OK,” jokingly of course; and you can hear Agassi reply, “I’ll take all the help I can get!”. Lack of confidence right there, nothing a player wants to have in his or her inner-circle.
Djokovic Split: Radek Stepanek
This coaching decision is even more mind-boggling than Andre Agassi. Radek, a weird guy, had been on the tour for ages (turned pro in 1996) but didn’t really make a lot happen in his career winning 5 titles and a Davis Cup victory. The Czech retired just last year but somehow managed to get on Novak Djokovic’s team, for what purpose I don’t know.
Stepanek had an old school style of play, a western forehand that was very flat and had decent movement; he was also one of the few serve and volley players left on the ATP tour. His first serve was his offensive weapon where his volley skills were his defensive strength. Again, still don’t know why he was on Djokovic’s team…Djokovic wasn’t much of a serve and volley type player (he’s done it at times but wasn’t consistently playing it). It’s just a head scratcher.
What is more interesting is the way Djokovic split with Sepanek, there was a whole announcement around their split
After Miami Novak Djokovic and his tennis coach Radek Stepanek decided to end their cooperation.
The private relationship with Stepanek was and will remain great, and Novak has enjoyed working with him and learning from him.
He remains grateful and appreciative of all the support he has received from Radek during the last period.
Novak remains focused and eager to come back stronger and more resilient from long injury break that has affected his confidence and game.
He is continuously and passionately looking for new and different ways to regain winning form.
Djokovic will upon his short holiday with a family start his preparations for the clay season and upcoming tournaments.
Notice how the Stepanek partnership was explain much more elaborately, where the Agassi portion was almost an afterthought? Strange indeed.
So that leaves Novak Djokovic completely coachless; this is more concerning. What would be a bigger concern is if Djokovic partners again with Pepe Imaz; that guy, I am convinced, started this downward spiral. With all the love and hugs stuff that he’s filled Novak with, seems more distracting than anything. I definitely could see Novak plummeting in the rankings if he continues on this path.