Djokovic can tap into Agassi's brilliant mind, says McEnroe
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[May 25, 2017]
By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic's
decision to work with American great Andre Agassi at the French Open
could be an inspired move as he seeks to recover his lost spark,
according to John McEnroe.
The Serb's insatiable appetite for grand slam titles appears to have
waned since he won last year's French Open to take his career haul
to 12 with motivational issues and niggling injuries contributing to
a surprising slump in form.
He split with his entire coaching team earlier this month but
announced after losing to Alexander Zverev in the Italian Open final
on Sunday that eight-times major champion Agassi would be advising
him during the Roland Garros fortnight.
It is 47-year-old Agassi's first taste of coaching at the top level
and he follows the likes of Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker, Michael Chang
and McEnroe himself into the players' box.
"I was surprised, I had not heard any indication that Andre was
looking to coach," seven-times grand slam champion McEnroe, who
worked with Canadian Milos Raonic at Wimbledon last year as he
reached the final, told Reuters.
"As far as being a brilliant tennis mind, and I know him well enough
to know that he is, he loves the game and will leave no stone
unturned as far as preparing for matches goes."
Agassi bloomed again after a mid-career slump that took him from
world number one to outside the top 100 in 1997 and he returned to
win the 1999 French Open and U.S. Open.
Taking his game to another level he went on to claim two Australian
Opens after his 30th birthday, the last coming in 2003 when he was
aged 32 and eight months.
With Djokovic having just turned 30 himself, McEnroe can see
parallels in their careers.
"Andre had a renaissance later in his career, into his 30s where he
had success late in his career," McEnroe, who will be imparting his
wisdom for Eurosport during the French Open, said.
"With Novak sort of hitting that peak by winning the French last
year he has talked about some issues off court, some motivational
issues, so perhaps Andre can give him an insight into an avenue, a
way where to be more easily fired up.
"If his mind is into it he is going to win more majors."
Djokovic and Agassi are deep thinkers about the sport and McEnroe
said that their partnership, however long it lasts, can be a meeting
[to top of second column]
Singapore Slammers' Andre Agassi of the U.S. waves to fans after the
matches against Manila Mavericks at the International Premier Tennis
League (IPTL) in Singapore December 2, 2014. REUTERS/Edgar Su
"First of all, Andre can bring a great respect. He's one of the
greatest players ever. To be around someone like that will be fun
for Novak," McEnroe said.
"Andre analyzed the game really well from the times I spoke to him.
He had that resurgence when he reached his 30s and added a couple of
grand slam titles.
"It sounds interesting to me."
After completing his career grand slam by winning the French last
year, Djokovic bowed out early at Wimbledon and lost in the U.S.
Open final to Stan Wawrinka.
He lost his world number one ranking to Britain's Andy Murray at the
end of last year and then suffered a shock second round loss to
qualifier Denis Istomin at the Australian Open.
Since then his form has been patchy although he has looked more like
his old self in recent weeks.
"I'm surprised Novak has fallen off as much as he has," McEnroe
said. "But it doesn't surprise me that he might have lost a little
motivation having accomplished what no one had done since Rod Laver
"But if he won the French it would not shock me at all."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)
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