Novak Djokovic warned over 'important decision' ahead after splitting with long-time coach

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Novak Djokovic has been warned of the importance of his upcoming decision in selecting a new coach. The world No 2 mutually split with Marian Vajda after 15 years together but is continuing his work with his other coach Goran Ivanisevic and his existing fitness trainers. Former world No 2 Alex Corretja has now raised concerns for the Serb’s attempt to replace his long-time mentor.

Djokovic confirmed his split with Vajda earlier this month, after mutually agreeing on ending their partnership during the ATP Finals in Turin at the end of last season.

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The 20-time Grand Slam champion had started travelling with his other coach, Ivanisevic, to some tournaments in preperation for life without Vajda.

He was meant to be coached solely by the 2001 Wimbledon champion at the season-ending event but Ivanisevic was forced to leave when his child tested positive for Covid and Vajda flew in to work with Djokovic.

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The Croat had also been the only coach to travel with the world No 2 to Australia, where he was ultimately deported, and Dubai where he lost in the quarter-finals.

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Novak Djokovic warned over 'important decision' ahead after splitting with long-time coach
© Getty Novak Djokovic has been warned over his need to replace Marian Vajda

Confirming the news earlier this month, the 34-year-old shared a tribute to Vajda on his Instagram account as he wrote: “Together we have achieved the unachievable and I will forever be grateful for your friendship and dedication. You will always be my family and I can’t thank you enough for everything.”

Vajda had been with Djokovic for all 20 of his Grand Slam title wins and the pair had only split once before, in 2017 when the Serb parted ways with every member of his team as a “shock therapy” before reuniting with them.

This time, the rest of 86-time title winner’s team including Ivanisevic and the Serb’s physios and fitness trainers Ulises Badio, Miljan Amanovic, and Marco Panichi, will stay the same.

But one former world No 2 has warned the Serb that he will need a replacement for the soundboard that was Vajda.

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“I think these kinds of top players, we see that they all need a super ex-coach or a super ex-player, someone who knows the feeling of being there, and they need someone that they have got a lot of confidence in,” Alex Corretja told Eurosport.

“Someone that is doing the dirty job, let’s say, Marian [Vajda], he is an ex-coach, an ex-player; he is someone that knows the game very well.

“It is very uncommon that this kind of profile goes away because usually, they are rotating the other ones, but this one stays there forever, almost.”

Explaining what the Slovakian coach brought to Djokovic’s team and why it needed to be recreated, the retired 17-time title winner said: “Definitely, Novak will need to find someone that is going to be the extension of his hand because that was pretty much what Marian was doing.

“Marian knows exactly how to react and knows exactly how to deal with the key moments because he knows him very well.

Novak Djokovic warned over 'important decision' ahead after splitting with long-time coach
© Getty Novak Djokovic worked with Marian Vajda for 15 years

“Maybe when a new one [coach] comes and goes like, ‘no, don’t do this’ or ‘don’t do that’ or ‘just calm down’ or whatever, it may be that it irritates Novak.

“So I think he really needs to know exactly what he wants for the next profile of coach to find someone that helps him. Because otherwise, he is going to be comparing them with Marian all the time, and that can be a little bit tricky.”

The former French Open finalist admitted that with the amount of time Djokovic had left in his career, he would need to make the correct decision after splitting with Vajda, having played just one tournament since and losing to a qualifier.

“I think Novak has still got three, four more years to play at least so it will be very interesting to see who he picks because it is a very important decision,” he added.

Djokovic will next be competing in next month’s Monte Carlo Masters, which will be just his second tournament of the year.

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