Sunday 18 August 2019

Djokovic taps into grass roots knowledge by hiring former champ as coach

Novak Djokovic. Photo: REUTERS/Tony O'Brien
Novak Djokovic. Photo: REUTERS/Tony O'Brien

Jonathan Veal

Goran Ivanisevic has joined defending champion Novak Djokovic's coaching staff for Wimbledon.

The 2001 champion will work with the Serbian for the first week of the tournament, though he is trying to shuffle his diary to stay longer.

Ivanisevic, the only man to win the singles title as a wild card entry, has previously coached Marin Cilic and Milos Raonic. "A bit of a sudden call came a few days ago," the 47-year-old told Serbian news outlet sportklub.

"I was a little surprised, I travelled to Sweden, Nole wanted me to come earlier, but I had a senior tour event agreed. I came here this morning for the first training.

"Unfortunately, it seems that I will be able to be there only in the first week because I have obligations again. I'm trying to postpone them, although there are so many things.

"However, when Novak Djokovic is calling you, you put a lot of things on the side."

The best performances of big-serving Ivanisevic's career were on the grass, having been a beaten finalist three times during the 1990s before finally lifting the trophy in 2001.

Despite winning at Wimbledon four times, including last year, it remains the surface that Djokovic is least comfortable on, having never played on it until he had turned professional.

Meanwhile, Stan Wawrinka (34) believes he can be a threat at Wimbledon this year, even though he admits finding grass challenging to play on.

He has won three grand slams, but has never gone past the quarter-finals at the All England Club. He is yet to regain the heights that saw him clinch the French Open in 2015 and the US Open a year later following his knee surgery at the end of 2017.

"I believe I am improving on this surface," Wawrinka said. "I got some big results playing in the quarter-finals and if I can get through the first couple of rounds I can be dangerous."

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