Las Vegas | Agassi leaves Djokovic Team
In a surprise announcement, Andre Agassi split from Novak Djokovic’s team, saying during Miami: “With only the best intentions I tried to help Novak. We far too often found ourselves agreeing to disagree. I wish him only the best moving forward”
Agassi was brought into the Djokovic camp in May of last year to turn around the fortunes of the 12-time Grand Slam champion.
Since losing in the 2016 Wimbledon Final the former World No 1 has been a shell of himself, battling with an elbow injury that has limited his play to just three wins in six matches in 2018 after having missed the latter part of 2017.
I know that you can’t be the person that you were yesterday, and the player [you once were]. You have to keep on training, evolving, trying to improve your game Novak Djokovic
Radek Stepanek, who was brought into the Djokovic camp in December of 2017, will remain with him as the Serbian returns to play on the clay in Monte Carlo on 15 April.
After less than a year working together the split with Agassi comes as a shock.
The two came together prior to the French Open last year, although Agassi always stressed that it was not a full-time coaching arrangement.
He emphasised that he was working ‘on my own dime’ and was fitting it in around other commitments.
Djokovic took the rest of last season off after retiring from his Wimbledon quarter-final.
He made the fourth round of the Australian Open in January and then, after a minor procedure on his elbow, returned at Indian Wells and Miami but looked out of sorts, losing both opening matches to lesser ranked players.
Afterwards he admitted he did not know what his plans were, suggesting he was unsure whether he would feature at the forthcoming Monte Carlo Open, which takes place in his adopted hometown.
He continues to work with Stepanek, a former Czech player, who was absent in Miami as he was at home with his partner Nicole Vaidisova, to whom he was previously married and is expecting their first child.
Speculation surrounds the surprise announcement of Agassi’s departure, with Darren Cahill amongst several who have questioned Djokovic’s approach to his collaboration with the American.
Weighing in on the development, 52-year-old Cahill, who coached Agassi during the later stages of his career and guided him to No 1 back in 2003, has provided his own interpretation of the former partnership.
“During the collaboration with Agassi, I learned more from him than he did to me! Therefore, it seems to me that Djokovic was not fully committed to working with Andre and that they were so different.” Cahill said whilst commentating for ESPN.
It is unknown as to who will fill in for Agassi.
Ivan Lendl, who was a former coach of Andy Murray, has been named as a potential successor to Agassi.
Although there has been no comment from the Czech, Lendl has also been linked to a future role with Alexander Zverev and was recently spotted watching his semi-final clash with Borna Coric at the Miami Masters.
Following Djokovic’s shock defeat to Benoite Paire in Miami, the 30-year-old admitted he was struggling to capture the form that rendered him almost unbeatable at his peak.
“I know that you can’t be the person that you were yesterday, and the player [you once were]. You have to keep on training, evolving, trying to improve your game
“The circumstances that I was in the last two years were very challenging. But I’m not the only one that goes through that. I mean, there are tougher injuries that players go through. I don’t want to sit here and whine about my last couple of years.
“I’m just in general trying everything I can. It is what it is. I’m not at the level that I used to be. I’m aware of that. I just have to obviously believe in myself and hopefully it will come.
“I wouldn’t go out on the court if I didn’t believe I can win a tennis match. I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t trying. I mean, nobody is kind of forcing me with a whip to go out on the court. I have a freedom to choose whether I want to play or not, ‘I love this sport.
“There’s a lot of people that support me, especially here. I thank them for their great support. Unfortunately I’m not at the level they would like to see me at and I would like to see myself at. But it is what it is. Life goes on.”