Andre Agassi has revealed he is coaching Novak Djokovic for free and that this is his way of contributing to the tennis world.
The pair have teamed up this French Open after Djokovic announced he had parted ways with his long-time coach Marian Vajda last month and they’ve so far had a good start with the Serb booking himself a place in the fourth round on Friday, with a five-set win over Diego Schwartzman.
Agassi had shown little interest in coaching as he lives in Nevada with his wife Steffi Graf, and has founded charter schools for young children. But he said that it was his wife who actually urged him to take up Djokovic on his offer.
“It was a surprise for me. I got a call from him late in Monte Carlo after he was done and he wanted to talk tennis and he wanted to talk the possibility of working,” Agassi told Djokovic’s former coach Boris Becker on Eurosport.
“I said ‘listen, maybe I can help you over the phone, I don’t think you need much, but this is not possible for me with the balance of my life’.
“And then ‘Steffi says maybe, maybe you’ll enjoy it’. And I said ‘do you think?’ I respect her so much, I said ‘okay, I’ll go early since I have to be in Paris anyhow and I’ll just get to know him.
“He’s a very inspirational guy for me. For me, this is – I do it on my own time, I do it on my own dime, my own money, I don’t want anything, I don’t need anything. I want to help him. And it helps the game and I think he should be – him at his best is good for the game and it’s a way I can contribute, hopefully.”
It remains unclear how much time Agassi and Djokovic will be spending together but the American eight-time Grand Slam champion is willing to work with him at Wimbledon as well.
“If he wants me there, yeah, I will come and figure it out. Whatever is practical and achievable, 100 per cent I will make the effort.”
Becker, who had great success with Djokovic for three seasons (2014-2016), asked Agassi on which parts of the Serb’s game he would like to work on.
“I don’t want him thinking about the things that are going to make him so much better that he stops doing what comes naturally and all this, so this is a whole different conversation,” replied Agassi. “But for me it’s simple. His game is built on controlling the baseline. And his game is built on executing to big targets. He’s not a guy that plays precisely to lines, occasionally if he’s on the defence he surprises you with this.
“He’s a guy that throws body blow after body blow after body blow. He’s just never thought a lot about the other side of the court. So I think there’s ways he can take his game at 30 years old, and older, because hopefully he’s going to still want to play for a while and then he could start to make it easier for himself by knowing what to do with the guy across the net.”