Novak Djokovic coach reveals secrets behind revival of Serb star’s career

ATP Tour
Novak Djokovic celebrates with Wimbledon trophy

Marian Vajda has revealed the changes he implemented to return Novak Djokovic to the top.

Djokovic turned to his former coach Vajda after parting company with Andre Agassi following a disappointing two years on the ATP Tour that had also been blighted by elbow injury.

He was struggling to regain any kind of form upon his return, and turned to Vajda for help.

“He called me from the Dominican Republic,” said Vajda. “We talked for around an hour. I caught him full of doubt.

“Novak asked me what I thought of his tennis. He was not sure about the way his game should look.

“He suggested I could coach him again. He felt he could not find the right team.”

One key change was Djokovic ending his association with Pepe Imaz, a former player and academy owner, who had taken on a role as ‘spiritaul advisor’ within the Serb’s team.

“Yes {I did], but it was not my No. 1 condition,” he said. “That was speaking to Novak in person.

“The second was that we set specific rules and plans for the next few months. At the second tournament together in Barcelona, we had a full team, and we sat and talked.

“We [said] we would not like it if those around were as intrusive as before.

“We wanted him to play tennis not as a philosophy but as a practice.

“I was not wanting Novak to be influenced by people who know what tennis is but don’t understand the mentality of a top athlete.

“Tennis cannot be based on a philosophy. It’s a mano a mano sport.

“If you want to be at the top, the path is through practice and repetition, playing and a good mentality.

The final important change Vajda made was in Djokovic’s physical conditioning and routine.

“He has an athletic build ideal for tennis but it was necessary to strengthen his muscles. Gebhard Phil-Gritsch worked a lot on his fitness, and the muscle mass returned.

“We practiced twice a day at Marbella, we also concentrated on fitness. The first month together was very intense, but also beneficial.”

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