Tennis

Chance phone-call led to Djokovic hiring Agassi as his new coach

Novak Djokovic revealed that a chance phone-call sparked his decision to hire US legend Andre Agassi as coach.

World No. 2 Djokovic, who is about to begin the defence of his French Open title, said he initially sought out Agassi's contact details just so he could thank him for his support as his career threatened to hit the skids earlier this year.

Now they have agreed to collaborate on a temporary basis for the French Open, where Djokovic, 30, is on course to meet Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals after Friday's draw.

Djokovic recently split with long-time coach Marian Vajda and also ended a three-year relationship with six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker at the end of last season.

"Even before when I was No. 1 and playing very successfully, winning trophies and in the latest period where I was not as successful... Andre was one of the few people that was actually on my side and supporting me," said Djokovic.

"So I appreciate that very much, and I wanted to thank him in person, and over the phone.

"It turned out to be a long conversation, and that's where it all started. At that point, we both didn't think about this evolving to become a professional relationship, but finally, after a few weeks, it did. It was completely up to him."

Agassi, an eight-time Major winner and 1999 Roland Garros champion, retired from tennis after the 2006 US Open and has never coached professionally.

But Djokovic believes he can learn from the 47-year-old American, who's also had numerous ups and downs in his career, both on and off the court.

"One of the things I felt like I needed is new inspiration, someone that knows exactly what I'm going through, you know, on the court, off the court," said Djokovic.

"He has been through all these transitions, he has been in my shoes before playing Grand Slams, being the best in the world, and facing all the challenges that are present in professional sport."

STEFFI SAYS

Agassi said he was persuaded by his wife and fellow tennis legend Steffi Graf to take up the job.

"Novak called me about three weeks ago and I said 'no' at the start," said Agassi.

"But Steffi 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.

"So I hope to see one or two of Novak's matches and try to bring to him what I can because even a small remark can do a lot.

- AFP

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