By Simon Cambers
LONDON (Reuters) – Andre Agassi has big plans for Novak Djokovic as he looks to steer him back toward his best tennis but there is one thing he won’t be advocating – a break.
Former world No. 1 Mats Wilander was among those to suggest that the best thing Djokovic could do would be to take an extended break after Wimbledon, allowing him to rest and regain the form that deserted him in the first half of the year.
But Agassi, who began working with Djokovic at the French Open last month, says Djokovic is motivated to do the hard work required now, rather than later.
“What’s really beneficial is being clear,” Agassi said. “A break isn’t beneficial if you’re not giving yourself a break because you know you want to be doing something else.
“Playing isn’t beneficial when you’re spent and you feel like you need a break and your team’s pushing you to play. So does he need a break? No, I think he’s ready and he has clear objectives.”
When Djokovic was beaten by Dominic Thiem in the French Open quarter-finals, Agassi had already left Paris, due to prior commitments.
He will be at Wimbledon throughout – handily coinciding with his role as ambassador for the Italian coffee company, Lavazza. The way Djokovic faded in the third set against Thiem in Paris led some to suggest that Agassi may have underestimated the magnitude of his task.
But as the Serb earned his first title since January by winning in Eastbourne last weekend, former world number one Agassi said he had not been under any illusions before accepting the role, a job he says he is doing for free.
“You’ve got to remember my history coming into this – I’ve seen behind the curtain so I don’t look at these guys as machines,” said the 47-year-old American who won eight grand slam titles.
“I knew what I was getting into. I knew it was a daunting task to care about somebody and care about him enough to show reservations. It’s easy to say this is how you play your best tennis but he knows that, everybody knows,” he added.
“We all go through that as former number one players in the world or champions who have gotten over the finishing line.
“We all go through that and I think I went through that as extreme as anybody.”
Agassi said he was confident Djokovic would find a way back to his best, sooner rather than later.
“I’m learning (about) somebody who has many more skills than me and a huge heart – the heart of a lion – and the work ethic of a soldier,” he said.
“It’s beautiful tools to work with. I can honestly say the hardest part about winning Wimbledon, the French or any of the slams, with his skill-set would be sleeping at night because I’d be excited to play the next day.”
(Editing by Ed Osmond)