Novak Djokovic’s next coach: Who is Nenad Zimonjic – the man tipped to replace Goran Ivanisevic?

Novak Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic
Novak Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic in 2020

Novak Djokovic has turned to a familiar face in the aftermath of his shock split from Goran Ivanisevic.

Just days after the 24-time Grand Slam champion announced he was no longer working with his long-term coach, the Serbian was spotted working with Nenad Zimonjic ahead of the Monte Carlo Masters.

Zimonjic is a trusted figure for Djokovic, but who exactly is the man tipped to become his new permanent coach?

Doubles legend

Zimonjic will already be a familiar face to those who have followed tennis for several years, with the Serbian a hugely successful doubles player across the past two decades.

During his playing career, Zimonjic won 54 ATP doubles titles and spent 50 weeks at the top of the ATP Doubles rankings, notably winning three men’s doubles Grand Slam titles.

Read More: Goran Ivanisevic reveals one feat that Novak Djokovic ‘feels like he owes to someone’

He won back-to-back Wimbledon titles alongside Daniel Nestor in 2008 and 2009 and won the French Open with the Canadian in 2010.

He also reached the 2008 French Open and 2010 Australian Open finals alongside Nestor, while he was also a runner-up at Wimbledon in 2004 with Julian Knowle, and with Fabrice Santoro in 2006.

Zimonjic also had huge success in mixed doubles, winning a further five Grand Slam titles and reaching another five major finals.

The Serbian was triumphant at the Australian Open in 2004 and 2008, prevailing alongside Elena Bovina and Sun Tiantian respectively, also winning the French Open in 2006 and 2010 partnered with Katarina Srebotnik.

The final Grand Slam triumph of his career came playing with Sam Stosur at Wimbledon in 2014 and though he has never officially announced his retirement, he has not played at ATP level since 2021.

Davis Cup heroics

No one has played more times for Serbia in the Davis Cup than Zimonjic, who achieved an impressive 43 wins from 55 ties during his time representing his country.

He was most notably part of the team that won the competition in 2010 and again reached the final in 2013, both times alongside Djokovic.

Representing his nation on court for 22 years, Zimonjic also captained his nation from 2017 to 2020 before being replaced by Viktor Troicki, though has since helped lead Serbia’s ATP Cup and United Cup squads in recent seasons.

How can he help Djokovic?

It is easy to see why Djokovic has initially turned to Zimonjic, and why this could ultimately become a long-term arrangement between the two.

Djokovic is known for keeping a tight inner circle and it should come as no surprise that he has previously played alongside and has known for around two decades.

Read More: Novak Djokovic told he ‘already seems outdated’ as Jannik Sinner ‘invented a new game’

That will surely bring huge piece of mind to the world No 1 as he looks to navigate what could be a tricky season for him, after a disappointing start to 2024.

This arrangement also makes sense from a technical standpoint, with the Zimonjic likely to continue the work that Ivanisevic did in a couple of key areas.

Much like Ivanisevic, Zimonjic was a huge server in his day and considering how much of a weapon Djokovic’s serve became under the Croatian, he is likely to work on this even further with him.

Zimonjic will also likely continue to work with Djokovic with his net play and coming forward, a tactic that could serve him well, with the majority of ATP players often planted to the baseline, and struggling when their rhythm is disrupted.

Ivanisevic’s seal of approval

Many were surprised to see former Wimbledon champion and world No 2 Ivanisevic leave Djokovic’s team last week.

But the man himself thinks Djokovic may have found the best man for the job to step in and replace him, hailing the strengths of Zimonjic – nicknamed ‘Ziki’ – and praising his relationship with Djokovic.

“I don’t know for how much longer Novak plans to keep on playing, but the perfect person is with him at the moment – Ziki,” he told Sport Klub (translated by Tennis Majors).

“He is a great friend of mine, we went through a lot together and I love him. He has vast tennis knowledge, but what is most important – he knows Novak really well.

“Ziki can help him tennis-wise. Novak does know everything already, but it will be refreshing for him to maybe hear the same thing from someone else, with a different approach. Ziki knows Novak’s mentality really well, they collaborated in the Davis Cup as well.”