What didn't work between Djokovic and Agassi?

After the end of the partnership with Backer, the Serb chose the former US star, but things didn't go very well

by Lorenzo Ciotti
What didn't work between Djokovic and Agassi?
© Michael Dodge / Stringer Getty Images Sport

This edition of the Australian Open 2024 gave many fans nostalgic for the old days the opportunity to see Andre Agassi again. The American legend, unlike many of his former colleagues, does not often appear in the stands of the most prestigious tournaments, nor does he give many interviews.

Taking advantage of his presence in Melbourne, Eurosport colleagues took the opportunity to interview him and ask him for his opinion on Novak Djokovic, a great friend of his, with whom he also had the opportunity to collaborate for a few months between the 2017 and 2018 tennis seasons.

Even though it didn't work out, the two remained on excellent terms and their mutual respect remained unconditional: "Novak is incredible, he continues to rewrite all the records, even his own. He's still there at 36, even though he looks like he's 31. At the time we shared many moments together, I encouraged him to continue doing much more, but in the end we had to move away. He's a great man, it was nice to see him after the match the other day, it's always a pleasure to see him. Only he can do what he does the way he does it, let's hope he stays like that for a long time," said Andre.

The American legend, four times champion in Melbourne, was framed several times while applauding the Serbian champion's plays. In a recent interview with The Age, Agassi explained that Djokovic's chances of winning other slams depend on his physical state.

Agassi© Julian Finney / Staff Getty Images Sport

"The only thing I am absolutely convinced of is that Novak cannot beat the time. It's just a question of how long he can put it off. I definitely see a few more years where he will still be competitive on the tour," commented the former ATP no.1, who then added: "How can you say something isn't possible? Records are there to be broken, right? Obviously we are speculating on many things, including health, which at some point will start to take its toll. In terms of statistics, Djokovic is the GOAT of men's tennis. You can't argue with Novak's stats. From Grand Slams to the number of weeks at the top of the rankings, there are many statistics he is redefining."

The American then told an anecdote about his participation in the Australian Open: "The most memorable thing was my first trip, I will always remember it. I missed this tournament for nine seasons and when I finally went, I wasn't sure how I would have been welcomed, but not only did they embrace me, they led me to victory that same year. It was a great memory, as I was struggling with tennis in many areas at the time, so that tournament turned out to be my most successful stop."

What didn't work between Djokovic and Agassi?

Not all collaborations work as they should. Ivan Lendl helped Andy Murray make his dreams come true, but then he didn't have the same success with Alexander Zverev. The same goes for Andre Agassi with Novak Djokovic.

It's not that easy to find the right chemistry. After a great season in 2016, Nole was overtaken by Andy Murray and, struggling with continuous physical problems, decided in May to leave his historic coach Marian Vajda and embark on a new adventure with Radek Stepanek and a tennis legend like Andre Agassi as coach.

Together they participated at the Roland Garros and Wimbledon but with poor results and Djokovic after the London tournament decided to take care of himself and think about the following season. After other problems, André Agassi and Novak Djokovic finally dissolved their partnership in March 2018 with Novak returning to work with Vajda, and then subsequently with Goran Ivanisevic.

Agassi and Djokovic
Agassi and Djokovic© Michael Dodge / Stringer Getty Images Sport

During a 2021 interview, Agassi himself tried to explain the lack of professional feeling with the Serbian champion. "Taking the Big Three I think it's really difficult to say who has had the best career and especially in different periods there is a better one and it is said that that is the best of the three.

On grass the best is Federer, on clay it is Rafael Nadal and on hard court it is Novak Djokovic. There are more different surfaces and they have played against them many times. Why did it end with Djokovic? I wasn't really helping him and that's why I decided to stop.

I wanted to help him but at a certain point it seemed to me that I was stopping his growth or in any case interfering, so I decided it was better to walk away. I can't say: you're right, if I don't agree with some of your choices and we saw that too many times we thought differently, this wasn't good in the relationship between coach and player."