Tennis

Vajda reunion a ‘fresh start’ for Djokovic after Agassi split

Novak Djokovic said on Monday that it feels like a "fresh start" to be working again with long-time former coach Marian Vajda at the Monte Carlo Masters.

The 12-time Grand Slam champion split from Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek earlier this month, and has been training with Vajda for the last 10 days in Monaco.

"It's a fresh start for both of us. I missed him. I have a feeling that he missed me or tennis or both," Djokovic said after a confident 6-0, 6-1 thrashing of Dusan Lajovic in the first round.

"He knows me better than any coach I've worked with. He's a friend. He's someone I can share a lot of things with, whether it's professional or private life. He's always there for me."

Djokovic confirmed he is not yet working with Vajda on a full-time basis, after the two parted ways following last year's tournament in Monte Carlo.

The 30-year-old also played down reports of a rift between him and Agassi, thanking the American for "helping his career" over an 11-month period.

"This doesn't affect our personal relationships that we established over the years, both with Radek and Andre," he said.

"But we just decided that it's better to part ways because both sides felt that's best for us."

Monday's win was his first since the Australian Open in January and the Serb said he is now playing pain-free, after struggling with a right-elbow injury.

"After two years, finally, I can play without pain," he said.

"Indian Wells, Miami, especially Indian Wells, was not like that. I still obviously wasn't ready game-wise, physically... I know that I can play much better than that, but I couldn't."

Djokovic will take on Borna Coric in the second round today and the winner of that tie will face Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem, who beat Andrey Rublev 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 yesterday.

Gilles Simon also advanced to the next round following his 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 win over Adrian Mannarino, while Fernando Verdasco battled Pablo Cuevas for nearly three hours, before winning 5-7, 7-6 (7/4), 6-1. - AFP

Tennis