By HOWARD FENDRICH
AP Tennis Writer
Novak Djokovic is done working with Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek after the latest in a series of coaching changes for the 12-time major champion who has gone nearly two full years without winning a Grand Slam title. Djokovic announced Wednesday on his website that he has split from Agassi after less than a year and from Stepanek after less than six months. The 30-year-old Serb has lost his past three matches.
“The private relationship with Stepanek was and will remain great, and Novak has enjoyed working with him and learning from him,” the posting on the website says. “He remains grateful and appreciative of all the support he has received from Radek during the last period.” The only mention of Agassi comes in the final sentence, which reads simply: “The cooperation between Novak and Andre Agassi has also ended.”
Djokovic has struggled on the court this season as he deals with a right elbow problem that just won’t seem to go away, even though he took the second half of last year off and then had a medical procedure in February. His latest setback was a straight-set loss in his opening match last month at the Miami Open, a tournament he has won six times. Earlier in March, Djokovic dropped his opener at Indian Wells, where he has won five titles, to Taro Daniel, a qualifier ranked outside the top 100.
Before that, Djokovic lost in the fourth round at the Australian Open. “Novak remains focused and eager to come back stronger and more resilient from (the) long injury break that has affected his confidence and game,” the website posting says. “He is continuously and
passionately looking for new and different ways to regain winning form.” He began working with eight-time major champion Agassi on a part-time basis before last year’s French
Open in May. He added Stepanek, who just retired as a player, to his team at the end of November.
Djokovic stopped working with Boris Becker in December 2016, then fired longtime coach Marian Vajda shortly before bringing aboard Agassi. All of this followed the most successful stretch of Djokovic’s career, which included a run of four consecutive Grand Slam titles that concluded at the French Open in June 2016. That made him the first man in nearly a half-century to hold all four major trophies at the same time, as well as the eighth man in
tennis history with a career Grand Slam.
It also capped a span in which Djokovic reached the finals at 10 of 12 majors, winning six. His total of 12 such titles trails only Roger Federer (20), Rafael Nadal (16) and Pete Sampras (14). He also has finished four years at No. 1 in the ATP rankings. But over the past seven Grand Slam tournaments, Djokovic has zero titles and one runner-up finish. He is ranked 13th this week. The next major, the French Open, begins in Paris on May 27.
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