Djokovic in shock split from coaching team ahead of Roland Garros defence – 5 thoughts

By Ros Satar

  • Novak Djokovic splits from long term partnership with coach and fitness team
  • Marian Vajda has been with him since June 2006
  • Gebhard Gritsch (fitness trainer) & Miljan Amanovic have been with him over the past eight and ten years respectively
SERBIA – Novak Djokovic announced on his website that he has mutually agreed to split with his long-term coach and fitness team.



Djokovic Splits from Coaching Team

The World No. 2 and reigning Roland Garros champion Novak Djokovic announced on Friday that the team had mutually agreed to split after the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters this year. The statement refers to a detailed analysis of the game, his results and also the teams’ private plans, with Djokovic feeling like he needed to make a change.

In the statement on his website, he said: “I am forever grateful to Marian, GG and Miljan for decade of friendship, professionalism and commitment to my career goals. Without their support I couldn’t have achieved these professional heights. I know they completely dedicated themselves and their lives to help me achieve my dreams and they were always my driving force and wind in my back. It was not an easy decision, but we all felt that we need a change. I am very grateful and proud of our relationship and unbreakable bond that we built through years of mutual love, respect and understanding. They are my family and that will never change”

Marian Vajda has been a constant by Djokovic’s side, and worked alongside the successful collaboration with Boris Becker, travelling when Becker could not be there, so his departure is perhaps the most surprising.

He said: “Time spent with Novak feels like a whole lifetime. We were part of many of his incredible achievements, we were living and breathing for his dreams. I gave everything I could as a coach and I am very proud of our results. We arrived to the point where we all realized we need new energy in the team. Novak can do so much more and I am sure he will. I am convinced that he will remain at the top of the tennis for many years and that he will bring a lot of joy to all the tennis fans around the world with his victories. Of course, we will continue consulting each other, seeing each other and hanging out together because after all, we are a family”

There were similar statements from his fitness coach Gebhard Gritsch and physio Miljan Amanovic.

Gritsch said: “It was a great privilege to have worked with Novak for exactly eight years to the day. It is the dream of every coach to be able to work with an athlete as gifted, professional and committed as Novak. We kept pushing the limits and found new ways to improve. I have no doubt that he will be back on top of the game again. He is a champion and a warrior and the sky is the limit for him. I am very proud of all the time we spent together as a team and a family on the road. It was time for us all to move on professionally, but privately we will remain friends and family and continue sharing all the joys of life with each other”

Amanovic echoed: “Novak is my best friend and my brother. I spent more time with him than with my family in the past 10 years. Nothing will change between us as our lives are interconnected in so many ways. I will forever be here for him and I look forward to seeing him rise to his full potential again. I have no doubt that he will”


‘Shock Therapy’

Djokovic went on to explain that he hopes this shock therapy will help him achieve better results. He is not the first player to give voice to his box when frustration hits, and we’re sure he will not be the last, but this team has been a consistent factor in his successes over the last few years.

Djokovic continued: “I want to continue raising the level of my game and stamina and this is a continuous process. I enjoy this journey, it feels like I am starting something new again and I love this challenge. I am a hunter and my biggest goal is to find the winning spark on the court again.

“I feel like this is a new chapter in my life. My career was always on the upward path and this time I’m experiencing how it is when the path takes you in a different direction. I want to find a way to come back to the top stronger and more resilient. I have so much faith in this process and that’s why I will take time to find the right person who I can connect with professionally.

“I have been on the tour long enough to know how to manage daily routines and I don’t want to rush my decision. I will be on the tour alone for a while with support of my family and management. I will inform the public when I find the right person, but for now I thank you for your support and understanding”


Five Thoughts on Djokovic’s split with his team

  • A split ahead of the Masters double-headers in Madrid and Rome, before his Roland Garros defence is the worst time to shake up his team – Djokovic is defending the title in Madrid and Paris and a run to the final in Rome. It feels unlikely to be the ‘shock therapy’ he says he needs at this stage but he certainly can manage his own routines.
  • At a time when Rafael Nadal is looking as dominant as he ever has on the clay, it opens the door still wider for Nadal to make it another ‘La Decima’ to follow his landmark wins in Monte Carlo and most recently Barcelona
  • Andy Murray could extend his lead at the top but his clay court season has been none too successful either, as he still struggles with an elbow injury that hampered his spring. He too is defending heavy points before the grass court season, but expectations are a lot lower for him.
  • What of the resurgence of Roger Federer. He is skipping Madrid and Rome, but at the moment the way is clear for him to continue this dream comeback on fresh legs, and with an unjaded view.
  • One thing is for sure – a new head coach has to be able to offer changes to the nuances of Djokovic’s game and also be a formidable voice for the Serbian. Like we said above – he is not the first player to let rip at his box when things are not going well, but not many coaches will want to bear the brunt of those kind of volleys. It has to be someone he really respects in the sport.


Djokovic will defend his title at the Mutua Madrid Open Masters 1000, which takes place between 7-14 May.