Djokovic splits with Stepanek as Agassi exits
Novak Djokovic has announced the departure of coach Radek Stepanek, thus continuing a bruising few weeks that must count as the one of the more demoralising periods in his career.
Djokovic also addressed last week's news, confirmed on Friday night by Andre Agassi, that Agassi would no longer be working with him either. This means that the 12-time slam champion has scratched his whole support team for the second time in less than a year.
A statement published on Djokovic's website said: "The private relationship with Stepanek was and will remain great, and Novak has enjoyed working with him and learning from him. He remains grateful and appreciative of all the support he has received from Radek during the last period."
After Djokovic's twin setbacks in Indian Wells and Miami, where the Serbian did not win a match, it would be easy to forget how sharp he looked in Melbourne at January's Australian Open.
He reached the fourth round there before losing to an inspired Hyeon Chung, and the signs were promising that he could look forward to a profitable 2018. But the elbow problem which curtailed his 2017 season after Wimbledon had not resolved itself and he had surgery soon after the Chung defeat.
No one except Djokovic himself can be quite sure what has happened since, but his performances at the two big American spring tournaments were both erratic and strangely listless.
The statement on his website continued: "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 co-operation between Novak and Andre Agassi has also ended."
These developments recall the moment last May when Djokovic announced that he was clearing out three close and long-term associates: mentor and coach Marian Vajda, fitness trainer Gebhard Gritsch and physiotherapist Miljan Amanovic.
Meanwhile, at a Davis Cup press conference in Genoa, Yannick Noah, the French team captain, revealed that former Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has had surgery on what is thought to be a torn meniscus in his knee. (© Daily Telegraph, London)