Novak Djokovic stood on the red dirt floor of court Philippe Chatrier, bruised, battered and totally forlorn. It absolutely was virtually over.
A year agone — at virtually precisely the same time — he was poised to become the primary man since Laver in 1969 to carry all four slam titles at an equivalent time, a achievement that might render his career slam complete. Last year French Open champion was on the point of lose his 2017 match to 23-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem. There was no coach in his player guest box, no physio or trainer. Simply stony-faced relations and Pepe Imaz, a spiritualist.
Once celebrated for pounding his chest, cacophonic open his shirt or yowl with alpha-dog rage, Djokovic was on the point of lose in straight sets, 6-0 within the third. He was forsaking. Quitting. No mas. obscurity to show for facilitate.
The collapse was all the a lot of poignant as a result of this was meant to be the tournament wherever Djokovic — with the assistance of a single cavalry comprised of Andre Agassi — was aiming to flip his frustrating season around. He was aiming to prove that his recent struggles were a lot of of a bug than a crash — a mere reaction to his glut of recent success. The French Open was his last probability to avoid the awful question that had been hanging over his career like an ominous storm cloud: Wherever will Novak Djokovic go from here?
Literally, the solution is suburban area, that is wherever Djokovic’s troubles began last year. He was upset within the third spherical by Sam Querrey amid sensational rumors (later confirmed if not explained by Djokovic) of a crisis in his personal life. That was the start of Djokovic’s nice unraveling.
Djokovic lost the 2016 US Open final to Stan Wawrinka and, shortly later, ceded his No. 1 world ranking to Andy Murray. Leading up to Roland Garros he’d won only one tournament, a minor event within theinitial week of the year. The French Open would be an excellent place to start reweaving the tapestry.
It did not happen. Djokovic simply does not appear able to vie with a mind totally dedicated to the task at hand. He resembles a reluctant individual, instead of slumping, has become preoccupied with what some may decision his “personal journey.” few news conference passes while not Djokovic waxing philosophical concerning “evolving” or life normally.
This deep dive into his own psyche is one amongst the most reasons Djokovic was thus keen to bring Andre Agassi aboard as his coach. It’s conjointly why Agassi set to assist Djokovic, in whom Agassi beyond question saw traces of his former self: a disillusioned, confused person seeking one thing quite he was obtaining out of court game and life.
As Djokovic told reporters at the Rome Masters: “Also [Agassi is] somebody that nurtures the family values, financial aid work. He is a awfully humble man, is incredibly educated. He is someone that may contribute to my life on and off the court plenty. I am terribly excited to see what is ahead of us.”
Djokovic’s hunger for steerage raises a awfully real, sensible downside. simply what quantity time and energy is Agassi willing to devote to a mentoring Djokovic, and how confortable would Agassi be with any reasonably serious exposure to Djokovic’s way of life? If Agassi was a rebel who had a dysfunctional relationship along with his father, Mike, the Djokovics run a good family operation. Which will even be a part of Djokovic’s basic downside.
Agassi leads a chic life crammed with activities unrelated to court game. It’s onerous to imagine him defrayal a good deal of your time sitting in an exceedingly tournament guest box chit-chatting with Djokovic’s present folks or the resident guru, Imaz.
Boris Becker, Djokovic’s former coach, has already plumbed some alarms concerning the Serb’s immediate future. Commenting on Eurosport a number of days agone, he distinguished that Agassi had left Paris by the time Djokovic lost to Thiem as a result of he had different obligations.
Becker adscititious, “[Djokovic] should realize a replacement tour coach. It’s same that there have been conversations with some coaches who can support him, however this should happen quick and not throughout suburb, as a result of Djokovic should profit of succeeding 3 or four weeks to return back.”
But Djokovic may not share Becker’s sense of urgency. He is been talking lots concerning “life” throughout these troublesome times — a amount once another player in his shoes can be zeroed in on less universal themes, like forehands, backhands and fitness.
Djokovic told reporters as he left Paris that he hoped to urge along side Agassi at suburb. That may not a lot of of a thought, then again Djokovic does not appear to be terribly positive of what he desires or wherever he goes from here, either in court game or — as he keeps language — “life.”
It’s usually same that you simply got to hit the bottom before you begin back for the highest. It does not sound like Djokovic has touched bottom nonetheless. that is the challenge of a deep dive.