Mon | Oct 16, 2017

Agassi inspires me - Djokovic ... Serb hoping new coach can lift him for French Open

Published:Monday | May 29, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Defending champion Novak Djokovic watches Andre Agassi (left) during a training session for the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium on Friday. Agassi is Djokovic’s new coach.

PARIS (AP):

Nearly a year after his slump started, Novak Djokovic is ready to reveal his new game at the French Open.

The 30-year-old Djokovic won the tournament at Roland Garros last year for his fourth straight major title. That completed a career Grand Slam, but it also marked the end of his dominance.

Last week, in an effort to turn things around, Djokovic said former great Andre Agassi would be his coach on the red clay in Paris.

"He's someone who inspires me and that's what I felt I needed. A new inspiration, someone who knows what I'm going through," Djokovic said during the build-up ahead of yesterday's start of the tournament. "He's been in my shoes before, playing Grand Slams, being the best in the world, facing all the challenges ... we can relate to each other.

"That's why I'm very excited for him being here, because it's a great opportunity for me to learn, to grow."

After last year's French Open, Djokovic lost in the third round at Wimbledon, his earliest defeat in a Grand Slam in seven years. He then lost in the first round at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, reached the final of the US Open, and lost early again at the Australian Open.

The Serb finished 2016 at No 2, his current ranking, and has won only one of his last 11 tournaments.

 

NEW CHAPTER

 

At the beginning of the month, Djokovic split with long-time coach Marian Vajda and two other team members - fitness coach Gebhard Phil Gritsch and physiotherapist Miljan Amanovic.

"It feels like a new chapter. It's a big change that I've experienced in the last three, four weeks, separating from the team I was with the last 10 years," Djokovic said. "It feels exciting. It feels right in this moment.

"In the last five, six months I was struggling a bit on the court. I'm trying to redefine myself and rediscover what kind of approach is the right one. I just felt I needed change. We needed to go our separate ways."

Agassi, who retired in 2006, won eight Grand Slam titles - four fewer than Djokovic - but has never coached.

Djokovic gets his French Open campaign started today against number 76 seed Marcel Granollers of Spain.