Novak Djokovic announces Andre Agassi as coach for French Open

The news comes after the Serb was beaten by 20-year-old Alexander Zverev in Italy

Novak Djokovic reacts after being beaten by Alexander Zverev of Germany in the Italian Open. Photo: Tiziani Fabi/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic reacts after being beaten by Alexander Zverev of Germany in the Italian Open. Photo: Tiziani Fabi/Getty Images

 

Andre Agassi will be in Novak Djkovic’s box when he begins the defence of his French Open title next week – at least for a few matches.

But the world No 2 left Rome on Sunday spiritually bruised and a little bewildered after losing in two one-sided sets to 20-year-old Alexander Zverev, who shows all the promise the Serb displayed as a teenager a decade ago. This was a performance and a result to announce the arrival of a new prince in the game.

The Italian Open final, which he has won four times, was Djokovic’s last match as a 29-year-old, a wretched denouement to a fine week of recovery for him. As he celebrates his birthday on Monday, he will want to quickly forget the dominance of the German with the flowing locks, booming serve and a backhand that ground him into the Roman clay over an hour and 21 minutes, winning 6-4, 6-3. Perhaps Agassi can offer the balm he needs.

Alexander Zverev celebrates with tournament staff after beating Novak Djokovic to win the Italian Open in Rome. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty
Alexander Zverev celebrates with tournament staff after beating Novak Djokovic to win the Italian Open in Rome. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty

Djokovic, deeply disappointed but not crestfallen, said later: “I spoke to Andre the last couple weeks on the phone, and we decided to get together in Paris. We don’t have any long-term commitment, it’s just us trying to get to know each other a little bit. He will not stay the whole tournament. He’s going to stay only to a certain time, and then we’ll see after that what’s going to happen.”

The odds are Agassi, who values his home life, will stay briefly. It is almost certain he will not last as long as Boris Becker, whose three-year stint ended in December. But Djokovic says he and the American are a good fit. He sounds, even, as if he’s looking for a life coach.

“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,” said Djokovic. “He understands the game amazingly well. I am enjoying every conversation that I have with him. Also, he’s someone that nurtures family values, philanthropic work. He’s a very humble man, very educated. 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.”

(Guardian service)

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