“Let’s see what Novak’s next moves are.”
Those were Andy Murray’s words when asked to comment on the bombshell news that Novak Djokovic announced on Friday, that he has parted ways with his entire coaching staff after over a decade of working together.
Murray echoed our exact sentiments. The Serb’s next appointment will be crucial for his quest to regain his top form and from the looks of it, Djokovic is looking to hire another “legend” or “super-coach”.
Djokovic, who has suffered a slew of unusual losses during the last 10 months, split with Boris Becker at the end of last season, before revealing two days ago that he will no longer be working with Marian Vajda (head coach), Gebhard Gritsch (fitness trainer) and Miljan Amanovic (physio).
The world No2 is yet to decide what his next actions may be and is here in Madrid with his brother Marko. But he hinted that he could, once again, turn to someone who has won grand slams and understands the experiences that he is going through.
“To be honest, I’m still going through the process of thinking about what the next step will be in terms of finding that person,” Djokovic told reporters in the Spanish capital ahead of the kick-off of his Mutua Madrid Open campaign.
“I assume it’s going to be someone that has been through similar experiences like I have, so… Not too many people in the past of tennis have managed to get to that stage and play at that level, so I’ll see.
“I’m thinking slowly and thoroughly about it. I don’t want to take things with a rush.”
Djokovic, who has a 14-4 win-loss record so far this season, is the defending champion in Madrid. He has lost before the semi-finals in four of the five tournaments he has contested in 2017 – which is well below his standard.
The lack of success in recent months eventually led to the split.
“We all felt like we needed a change. We all felt like we needed to kind of enter a new chapter,” explained Djokovic.
“It was a mutual decision. It was not only my decision. We gave it a last shot I think in the last couple of months. We talked about what I guess the future brings for us at the end of the last season.
“We tried to work things out another time, but we just needed to move on.”
Djokovic added that Vajda has been practically travelling continuously for the past 30 years as he went from being a player, to coaching to Dominik Hrbaty, to moving to his team, with no breaks in between.
Despite having a fairly large entourage for the past decade, Djokovic insists travelling solo, or with his brother, will not be difficult for him.
“I’m completely confident in myself, and I believe in the process of change, that it’s going to bring me some good things,” said the soon-to-be 30-year-old.
“I’m going to take a little bit more time to think of the next person that will be there as a tennis coach. But, as I said, I don’t want to rush into it because I don’t think I’m incapable of being by myself, or with my brother, with my family now on the court. I completely feel comfortable with him and by myself.”
He continued: “Right now it’s a transition sort of process that I’m embracing and I’m accepting. So I’m just trying to be in the moment.”
One member of Team Djokovic that is still around is Spaniard, Pepe Imaz, who is being referred to as a “guru” by some media outlets and whose tennis academy’s mission is to “give absolute priority to the person’s wellbeing, feelings and emotions”.
It appears Imaz has been a key figure in what can be described as Djokovic’s spiritual journey. A video of them meditating together emerged a few months ago but Djokovic insists their acquaintance is far from new.
“Yes, he’s here. We’ve been working together for the last four, five years. He’s still part of the team,” said Djokovic of Imaz.
Djokovic’s career went from complete domination that culminated with him winning the French Open to secure the Career Grand Slam, to a bit of a stutter, all within a 12-month period.
“Of course when you start losing more matches, you start questioning your game, yourself, what you’re doing wrong so you can rectify that and get better, turn the tables around,” he said.
“Of course, I’m thinking about it. I’m analysing my game. I’m trying to get as much as I thoroughly personally can do, and also input from the people that are close to me. I’m constantly trying to improve and to get better.
“In the last six months, I haven’t had too many of great results. That’s why, I’ve felt like I needed some changes and I needed to approach things maybe a little bit differently, which is completely fine.
“It’s just life always throws a new challenges as you. Instead of avoiding them and ducking them, I’m trying to confront them and trying to embrace them. I guess in the process, I’m trying to get better as a person and as a tennis player.
“How long maybe this process is going to last before I get to the winning terms again, I don’t know. I’m just hoping I will get there again.”
He signed off from his press conference on Sunday the only way he knows how – being philosophical and optimistic about the future.
“It was just meant to be for me this way. But I’m sure difficult paths lead to beautiful destinations,” said the Serb.
Djokovic is seeded No2 in Madrid and begins his title defence against one of two Spanish wildcards – Tommy Robredo or Nicolas Almagro.
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