It began with just a few upsets. Novak Djokovic, the all-time No. 1 earner in males’s tennis historical past, misplaced within the second spherical of the 2017 Australian Open. He didn’t get previous third and fourth rounds respectively in his subsequent two matches on the Mexican Open and Indian Wells Masters.
The ultimate straw got here after a quarterfinals loss to David Goffin on the Monte-Carlo Open. A yr earlier than, he held all 4 Grand Slam championships, however his play was dwindling quick. He determined to jettison his outdated coach Marian Vajda in Could 2017, in addition to health coach Gebhard Phil Gritsch and physiotherapist Miljan Amanovic.
Regardless of beforehand serving to the Serb to 12 Grand Slam titles, Vajda needed to go as a way to, as Djokovic put it, “discover the successful spark on the courtroom once more.” Solely weeks later, he introduced the top of his 2017 season because of elbow damage, stating that he can be coached by the legendary Andre Agassi.
Vajda, initially born within the outdated Czechoslovakia however a resident of Slovakia, had jumped onboard group Novak in 2006, overseeing the majority of Djokovic’s success. As a participant, he gained two ATP tour titles, sported a 119-152 report and made Slovakia’s Davis Cup group in 1994.
He discovered a rebirth in his tennis profession as a coach, however had earlier points being Djokovic’s predominant coach. In 2013, the Serb briefly inserted Boris Becker as his head coach, whereas Vajda remained on the coaching workers. This arrange the seeds for Vajda’s and Djokovic’s separation in 2017.
The early returns didn’t go effectively.
The damage continued to be a problem, so he underwent surgical procedure in Jan. 2018. As Djokovic admitted, the elbow had been an issue for the higher a part of two years. When he emerged from the ailment in April 2018 on the Monte-Carlo Masters, Vajda was by his facet once more.
What occurred? Djokovic misplaced perception in himself, as his time with Agassi led to the worst report in his profession and diminishing well being. As well as, Vajda notes that his mentee’s psychological energy was diminished because of Pepe Imaz, a religious information usually ridiculed as a “hugging guru” by Tennis 365.
When Djokovic referred to as Vajda to gauge curiosity in reuniting, eliminating individuals akin to Imaz was a key situation.
“Sure, I needed to give up (working with Imaz), though that was not my major situation,” continued Vajda. “The primary situation was to see Novak personally.
“He referred to as me from the Dominican Republic. We talked for round an hour. I caught him filled with doubt. Novak requested me what I considered his tennis. He was unsure about the best way his recreation ought to look. He recommended I may coach him once more. He felt he couldn’t discover the appropriate group.”
After some struggles on the clay, Djokovic lastly began returning to type. He reached the ultimate of the Queen’s Membership Championships, dropping in 5 units to Marian Cilic. Quickly after, he added a Grand Slam title to his belt at Wimbledon.
He wanted to oust rival Rafael Nadal within the semifinals in a five-set marathon that lasted two days. Profitable that was key to his latest confidence enhance, says Vajda.
“The most important change for him, I feel, was his win over Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon,” he informed Ubitennis. “It was an unbelievable match. I feel after that he obtained perception and misplaced the concern of dropping.”
A number of months later, Djokovic gained the U.S. Open over Juan Martin del Potro. Because the calendar turned to 2019, he gained in straight units over Nadal on the Australian Open. The redemption arc was formally full.
“I’ve identified him for a few years, however I by no means anticipated him to return again to that manner so quick,” Vajda informed Ubitennis. “I had a sense that I used to be beginning over again with a brand new Novak as a result of he had doubts after the (elbow) damage.
“The hardest half was the comparability between now and the previous. He at all times in contrast himself to a champion and it took some time to get there.”
For his efforts, Vajda gained the 2018 ATP Coach of the Yr.
Towards Federer on Sunday, it’s not nearly redemption. It’s about persevering with to trace down the Swiss’ Grand Slam titles report. With Federer at 20 and Djokovic now at 15, the chase is afoot.