Djokovic believes Agassi is the new inspiration he is looking for

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New inspiration: For Djokovic.

PARIS — Novak Djokovic’s partnership with Andre Agassi actually started with a thank you phone call from the Serb.

Djokovic, who had announced that he parted company with his entire team earlier this month, had his first practice session with his new coach Agassi at Roland Garros on Thursday and the dream duo have been the centre of attention here. So much so that other players, like Dominika Cibulkova and Fernando Verdasco, were spotted in the stands watching Djokovic’s practice on Friday under the watchful eye of Agassi.

“Even though it was the first day, it felt like we know each other for a very long time,” Djokovic, the defending champion in Paris, told reporters on Friday.

“We clicked and connected very fast. He’s someone that inspires me a lot. That’s one of the things I felt like I needed is new inspiration, someone that knows exactly what I’m going through, you know, on the court, off the court. He has been through all these transitions, he has been in my shoes before playing Grand Slams, being the best in the world, and facing all the challenges that are present in the tennis, in the professional sport.

“So we can relate to each other in many different ways from many different sides. That’s why I’m very excited for him being here, because it’s a great opportunity for me to learn. It’s a great opportunity for me to grow together with him and to experience, you know, whatever is ahead of us.”

There had been whispers earlier this month that Djokovic was going to pull off the impossible and hire Agassi as a coach. It sounded impossible simply because the American was settled with his wife Steffi Graf in Las Vegas, focusing on his charter schools and philanthropic work, and has shown no intention of traveling on tour again.

But apparently one phone call from Djokovic began a dialogue between the two and they are testing the waters here in Paris, with no concrete plan yet on how they will proceed in the future.

“I asked for his contact number to thank him for talking always very nicely about me in the press whenever someone would ask him, he would only have positives to say about me, my game,” explained Djokovic.

“Even, before when I was No 1 and playing very successfully, winning trophies. And in the latest period where I was not as successful and where I received a lot of criticism from many sides, he was one of the people, few people that was actually standing on my side and supporting me. So I appreciate that very much, and I wanted to thank him in person, and over the phone. It turned out to be a long conversation, and that’s where it all started.

“At that point, we both didn’t think about this evolving to become a professional relationship, but finally, after few weeks, it did. It was completely up to him.”

In his own standards, Djokovic has struggled over the last 11 months, suffering unexpected defeats and picking up just one title so far in 2017. He picked up his form in Madrid (lost to Nadal in the semis) and Rome (lost to Zverev in the final) but he admits he is still not at his best.

He’s hoping Agassi can help him jump-start his season.

“Having him on a Grand Slam is different, because these are the biggest tournaments we have in sport. So it brings a new dimension of motivation and also excitement to me and to my team. So we all are looking forward to the next couple of weeks,” said Djokovic, who kicks off his Roland Garros campaign against Spaniard Marcel Granollers.

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