“Nothing Extraordinary”: Coach Marian Vajda Details First Perception of Novak Djokovic

Published 03/25/2021, 6:30 AM EDT
PARIS, FRANCE – OCTOBER 27: Novak Djokovic of Serbia speaks with coach, Marian Vajda during practice ahead of the Rolex Paris Masters at AccorHotels Arena on October 27, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)


Serbian World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is considered one of the fittest athletes in the present-day sports world. But was he the same when he began his tennis career more than 15 years ago? Retired Slovakian professional Marian Vajda, who has coached the Serbian almost his entire career, has an interesting take on this.

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The Slovakian coach illustrated the time when he first saw the future 18-time Grand Slam champion and recalled the training session with his daughter Natalia, who he also coaches now.

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Coach Marian Vajda tells the story of his first impression of Novak Djokovic

Marian appeared on the Changeover Chat show presented by SportMaster on the Tennis One app. The interviewer asked him whether his first impression of Novak Djokovic was if ‘he’s really good’ or ‘he’s got some work to do’. Without any hesitation, the coach chose the latter.

LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 10: Novak Djokovic of Serbia talks with his coach Marian Vajda during a training session prior to the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals at O2 Arena on November 10, 2018, in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The coach said, “I saw him [Novak] straight on the court, he was practicing… and it was nothing extraordinary. Actually, it’s also a funny story, I had my daughter, who was beside me standing, and I asked her, ‘What do you think of this guy?'”

Interestingly, Marian met Djokovic in 2006 while he was practicing at Roland Garros and unsurprisingly saw the competitor spirit in him even then.

He said, “He was playing really good. He was a hell of an athlete. I saw his athleticism was incredible, nice and solid, and everything. But I saw some technical gaps there. But overall, he was a competitor. I saw that he doesn’t give up any ball, and I see that his game is in frame, and he sees the ball perfectly clean and hits it clean.”

After analyzing the future record-holder of most weeks spent at World No. 1, the coach turned to his daughter. He said, “Anyhow, finally I ask my daughter, ‘Natalia, Listen, What do you think of this guy?’ She says, ‘Daddy, he looks good, but his backhand doesn’t work.’” 

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Which tournament will Djokovic play next?

Today, the coach-player team is the most successful pair with regards to Grand Slams. Moving forward, they will turn to Monte-Carlo to compete for their first Masters 1000 event in 2021.

Tennis – Australian Open – Men’s Singles Final – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates with the trophy after winning his final match against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Novak, who pulled off an extraordinary record-extending ninth Australian Open title victory, aims to win more Grand Slams in 2021. Presently, he is preparing for the upcoming clay-court season.

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Will Novak win another Grand Slam title after the Australian Open this year?

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Purav Joshi

662 articles

Purav Joshi is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having a degree in Films, Television and Media Production, he guided his passion for writing and journalism into the sport of aces and rallies. With over 2 years of experience as a copywriter, Purav has authored over 500 tennis articles.

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