Tennis legend Andre Agassi has opened up on why he stopped working with 17-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic as a coach.
Agassi, who won eight Major titles during an illustrious and glorious career, shared new details of a coaching stint with the Serb, which failed to meet the expectations of either of them.
Headlining a session at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit along with his wife, 22-time Grand Slam champion Steffi Graf, Agassi said that when he took over, what Djokovic needed ‘was a reason to fight and care’.
The American came on board as Djokovic’s coach at a time when he was struggling with his tennis and worked with him for eleven months, between 2017 and 2018.
However, their association didn’t produce the kind of results that the Serb had expected.
Djokovic had suffered a huge dip in form before sounding out Agassi as his coach.
The Serb initially hired Agassi and former Czech tennis player Radek Stepanek as his part-time coaches in 2017.
Later, in 2018, he announced the American as his full-time coach.
However, their coming together largely failed to deliver the goods for the Serb and the two parted ways after the 2018 French Open.
On Agassi’s watch, Djokovic went out in the quarter-finals at Roland-Garros in 2018, losing to Italian Marco Cecchinato in four sets.
Recalling his stint with the Serb, Agassi said, “What Novak needed was a reason to fight and care. He did not lose his game overnight. Lots of information he needed to process for a while.”
Agassi said that after splitting with him, Djokovic returned to the brand of tennis he knows best – the scrappy, no-holds-barred tennis.
“Me challenging him to stop working with him, to give him a reason to prove something. He went back to his roots – like ‘Rocky’ – his fight. That’s what he needed,” the American said.
The American said that while his association with him did not work out, it may have spurred him on to rediscover his top form.
“He is always looking to get agitated on a tennis court. I might have poked the bear (a) little harder and (a) little sooner,” Agassi said.
Since the end of his stint with Djokovic, Agassi hasn’t taken up any high-profile coaching assignments.