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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Novak Djokovic

Andre Agassi coaching Novak Djokovic for free

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi is one of a kind.

Agassi recently took on a role as a part-time coach for Novak Djokovic, and the retired 8-time grand slam winner says he is not even charging the Serbian star any money. Instead, Agassi is coaching on his own dime as a way to give back to the sport of tennis in general.

Agassi spoke with Boris Becker, a former player who previously coached Djokovic, for an interview on Eurosport. In the interview, Agassi revealed that he coaches on his own time and his own dime.

“I do it on my own time, I do it on my own dime,” Agassi told Becker in the interview. “I don’t want anything. I want to help him. And it helps the game. Him at his best is good for the game, and it’s a way I can contribute, hopefully.”

Agassi began advising Djokovic at the French Open. He said in the interview that he was also willing to help Nole at Wimbledon, too.

Djokovic has been struggling over the past year. He advanced to the fourth round at Roland Garros with a five-set win on Friday.

Steffi Graf urged Andre Agassi to take job with Novak Djokovic

Andre Agassi Steffi Graf

Andre Agassi will begin a new coaching relationship with Novak Djokovic at the French Open, and the Serbian tennis star has Steffi Graf to thank.

According to Sky Sports, Agassi recently said that he turned Djokovic down when Nole first called about the job. But it was Andre’s wife, former No. 1 tennis player Graf, who told him to take the gig.

“Novak called me about three weeks ago and I said ‘no’ at the start,” Agassi said, according to Sky Sports. “But my wife said ‘you should go, you will love it’. We had organised a family trip during Roland Garros anyway which was planned for a long time.”

Agassi apparently changed his mind and plans because he will be coaching Djokovic at Roland Garros. He also thinks the former No. 1 has nowhere to go but up considering Djokovic’s recent slide.

Since winning five of six majors during a span between 2015 and 2016, Djokovic has made a pair of early-round exits at majors, as well as a first-round loss in the Olympics. He also has had several surprising losses in tournaments this year, including a pair to Nick Kyrgios. Agassi should be a major benefit to Djokovic’s team.

Report: Andre Agassi a candidate to coach Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic celebration

Novak Djokovic announced major changes to his coaching staff last week, and he has implied a big name will be joining his team. One report says that person could be Andre Agassi.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Monday that Agassi is a candidate to join Djokovic’s team. Djokovic’s agent told the outlet that the group is just in the early stages of discussions with interested candidates.

Djokovic on Friday announced the changes to his team, which involved parting ways with three members of his staff, including coach Marian Vajda, as well as his fitness coach and physiotherapist.

On Sunday, Djokovic hinted that his next coach will be a big name.

“It’s going to be someone that has been through similar experiences like I have,” said Djokovic from the Madrid Masters. “Not too many people in the past of tennis have managed to get to that stage and play at that level, so I’ll see.

“I’m thinking slowly and thoroughly about it. I don’t want to take things with a rush.”

Djokovic is making a change at a time when his game is slipping. He lost in the third round at Wimbledon last year; the second round of the Australian Open this year; and the first round of the Olympics. That’s all for a player who won five of six grand slams during the first six majors between 2015 and 2016. Boris Becker parted ways with him as coach, saying Djokovic’s focuses wasn’t where it needed to be. Perhaps the next coach can help get Djokovic back to his top levels.

But would Agassi even have interest in the position? In a March interview with The Guardian, Agassi expressed interest in coaching a few talented players who he feels are underachieving. However, he said he didn’t think he would have room for it now.

“I would not have any room now with my kids, who are 15 and 13. So the answer is no. I wouldn’t be able to do it because I couldn’t do it the way I would need to do it,” Agassi told The Guardian.

That raises questions about his ability to coach Djokovic. Perhaps if he coached in a more limited role and weren’t handling the Serbian star day-to-day, such an arrangement would work. It sure would turn a lot of heads if it happened.

Denis Istomin upsets Novak Djokovic at Australian Open

Denis Istomin

Uzbekistani tennis player Denis Istomin made history on Thursday at the Australian Open when he shocked Novak Djokovic in the second round of the tournament.

Istomin, who is ranked No. 117 in the world, beat Djokovic in five sets, 7-6, 5-7, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4.

Istomin said he battled cramps in his legs and still won the match. He rallied back from down two sets to one to win it.

Making the upset even more surprising is that the Australian Open is arguably Djokovic’s best tournament, as he’s won it all but one year since 2011, and six times overall. Djokovic had also dominated Istomin in the five times they’d previously met.

This continues a run of negative finishes for Djokovic. It started when he lost the US Open finals to Stan Wawrinka, then he lost the No. 1 world ranking to Andy Murray, and he now lost in the second round at his best major.

Questions about Djokovic splitting with coach Boris Becker will now arise as many will begin questioning the wisdom of that move.

Novak Djokovic gets controversial foot treatment during finals

Novak Djokovic foot

Novak Djokovic stoked a controversy during the fourth set of the U.S. Open men’s final on Sunday by getting treatment on his foot mid-set.

Djokovic was down 3-0 in the fourth set and had just held serve to make it 3-1 when he asked for a break in action to get treatment on his foot. The break was granted and a trainer came out to treat his feet.

Stan Wawrinka was livid because he did not think a break for treatment was warranted. Typically players get treated by the trainers after a changeover, but that was a game away and Wawrinka believes he should have had the opportunity to serve during his game. Wawrinka voiced his complaints to the chair umpire, saying that he should have been allowed to serve.

Djokovic responded by telling Wawrinka he couldn’t stand:

A medical timeout is only supposed to take place during a changeover or set break unless the trainer determines the player has developed an acute medical treatment that requires immediate treatment.

In the end, Wawrinka was not slowed by Djokovic’s treatment and won the fourth set to take the tournament — his third major.

Novak Djokovic wife Jelena supporting husband at US Open

Novak Djokovic wife

There have been a lot of rumors surrounding Novak Djokovic lately, but his wife Jelena has been supporting him throughout his run at the US Open despite it all.

Djokovic advanced to the finals of the US Open for the seventh time and is looking to become a three-time champion at the event. He’s had the support of wife Jelena throughout the tournament despite all the rumors.

Djokovic said prior to the tournament that personal issues derailed him at Wimbledon, where he lost in the third round for his worst finish at a grand slam since 2009. That led to speculation that the issues involved his wife.

As a follow-up, the Daily Mail said Jelena was looking glum and left Nole’s opening match at the US Open early. They also noted that back in March, Novak was spotted leaving a club in LA with another woman.

If issues are going on, they seem to be resolved — at least publicly, because Jelena has looked like her usual supportive self, while Nole has played well despite sporadic issues with his shoulder.

Gael Monfils responds to John McEnroe, critics after loss to Novak Djokovic

Gael Monfils

Gael Monfils responded to his critics like John McEnroe after losing to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the US Open on Friday.

Monfils lost in four sets 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 and got off to a bad start at 0-5 in the first set. That led Monfils to try a different strategy, which resulted in commentator John McEnroe calling him out on ESPN for tanking.

Here is an example of what led to the comments:

It’s pretty clear to me that Monfils, having never beaten Djokovic before, mentally felt he needed to try something different because he already felt defeated, so he did something else. And it actually messed with Djokovic and helped Monfils win a few games in the first set, though he ultimately lost it.

After the match, Monfils responded to the critics.

“It’s part of the sport. I think people were expecting a tougher battle,” said Monfils.

“At the end, if I had the mic, I would say ‘stop saying that I’m unprofessional. The guy is killing me. Just embrace that the guy is too good for me and I tried to switch strategy.”

Monfils talking about Djokovic maybe being too good for him is evidenced by Nole’s 13-0 record against him all-time. This was Monfils’ best showing ever at the US Open, even if his performance in the semifinal didn’t reflect well on him. There were questions about his effort as both players struggled with humidity, with Djokovic even getting his shoulder checked.

Here is what Monfils had to say about the criticism from McEnroe:

We’d also like to hear Monfils’ response to ESPN’s LZ Granderson.