With news leaked of a new coach in his box, Novak Djokovic talked about the hiring of Andre Agassi for his French Open title defense. From his presser after his to loss to Alexander Zverev in the Rome final yesterday:
Q. There were reports during the match on Italian TV that Andre Agassi has been decided as your coach.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That’s what I wanted to let you guys know. I spoke to Andre the last couple weeks on the phone, and we decided to get together in Paris. So he’s gonna be there. We’ll see what future brings.
We are both excited to work together and see where it takes us. We don’t have any long-term commitment. It’s just us trying to get to know each other in Paris a little bit.
He will not stay the whole tournament. He’s gonna stay only to a certain time, and then we’ll, you know, see after that what’s gonna happen.
Q. What was it about Andre that attracted you to bring him into the camp for Paris?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, a lot of things. Obviously Andre is someone that I have tremendous respect for as a person and as a player. He has been through everything that I’m going through. You know, on the court he understands the game amazingly well. I am enjoying every conversation that I have with him.
But also, on the other hand, he’s someone that nurtures the family values, philanthropy work. He’s a very humble man, is very educated in just — you know, he’s a person that can contribute to my life on and off the court a lot. I’m very excited to see what is ahead of us.
Q. Did you know better Agassi than you knew Becker when you picked up Becker, or more or less the same? And only once you went to 30 on Zverev’s serve. Never to 40. I have never seen you losing that way on the serves.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I will answer the second question first. As I said, you know, he served very well. I just wasn’t able to get any rhythm on, you know, on my returns. He was serving I think over 70% of first serves and hitting the spots very well.
If we would get into a rally, he would just — you know, he would smash the ball from first or second shot. He played very well. I mean, there is no doubt he took away the time from me, and something that I have done yesterday well with Thiem. That’s what he did with me today.
You know, it happens. You know, he’s a big server. If he serves this well and this efficient, it’s tough to play him on any surface.
Q. And Becker and Agassi.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. Well, I talked with Andre, as I said, for the last two, two-and-a-half weeks. You know, we get to know each other over the phone for now, but in Paris we will see each other in person, and then we will take it from there.
With Boris, well, I have known him on the tour, and then, you know, I met him once. We spoke a few times on the phone, and then we met in person. That’s when it was decided for us to work.
It’s hard to say, you know. I mean, you know, I don’t know Andre that well, because it’s only a couple weeks that we are in communication, let’s say, but I already feel like we are very kind of close to each other and creating this nice vibe.
Q. Was it difficult to convince Agassi? Because he has been away from tennis. Unlike Becker, who was working on TV, Agassi sort of disappeared from this world. Was it tough to lure him back?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I persuaded him (smiling).
Q. Yeah, how did you seduce Andre?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Not going to discover the secrets of my persuasion (smiling).
Look, you know, he’s someone that has been so successful in this sport, and he’s a legend of our sport. He’s made a mark in this sport forever. He’s won everything there is to win in tennis.
You know, he was a revolutionary player because he had this charisma, he had this, you know, approach to tennis and to life that was quite different from others. That’s why he was so interesting.
Yes, he has been away from the tour for last 10, 15 years, but speaking with him, he’s been definitely following up closely all the matches, the big matches, especially on the TV. So he knows players, he knows everyone that I was playing against in last couple of weeks, so we talked before every match, more or less.
So it was obviously his call whether or not he wants to take that step and, you know, try to work with me. He has accepted it, and I’m very grateful for that. It’s exciting, of course. I’m very happy about it.
We’ll see. You know, Paris is the first tournament where we’re going to be together in person on the court. So good times ahead.
Q. Obviously you had a mutual clearout of the rest of your team in recent weeks. Will there be anyone else joining you in Paris? I know Gil Reyes has worked with Andre in the past.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, Andre will be with me in Paris and my brother, as well. That’s it for now.
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