Iconic Serbian coach on why firing Goran Ivanisevic was great move by Novak Djokovic

Radmilo Armenulic candidly shares his thoughts on the Djokovic and Ivanisevic split.

by Dzevad Mesic
Iconic Serbian coach on why firing Goran Ivanisevic was great move by Novak Djokovic
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Renowned Serbian tennis coach Radmilo Armenulic thinks Novak Djokovic made a good decision in splitting with Goran Ivanisevic as he explained that Ivanisevic "likes fantasies" and that the Serbian tennis star should now maybe explore the idea of hiring Ivan Lendl.

After disappointingly losing in the Australian Open semifinal and shockingly losing to qualifier Luca Nardi at the Indian Wells Masters, Djokovic made a major move ahead of the clay season as he decided to part ways with Ivanisevic, with whom he started collaborating in 2019. 

In their five years together, they won 12 Grand Slams together. But Djokovic's 2024 season hasn't started well as something seems to be off in the 36-year-old's game in early 2024. 

Armenulic, who worked as the Davis Cup team captain for Yugoslavia and later Serbia, also coached Ivanisevic early in the Croatian's career. When asked to share his thoughts on the split between Djokovic and Ivanisevic, Armenulic said it was something that needed to happen because their partnership probably reached its ceiling.

"The results decided. Novak found that Ivanisevic can no longer give him the attention he needs. It is obvious that the practices were no longer active, that there was saturation. I think Novak made a good decision. We'll see if it all works out. My opinion is that it will be," Armenulic told Kurir.

"Novak realized that he has to improve his volley, serve, and some other important things in his game. I'm sure he has someone in his sight."

Novak Djokovic and Goran Ivanisevic
Novak Djokovic and Goran Ivanisevic© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman

Armenulic: Ivanisevic likes fantasies, Lendl is a serious man 

Further sharing his thoughts on the split that shocked the tennis world, Armenulic interestingly remarked that Ivanisevic is someone who "likes fantasies." Armenulic didn't directly explain what he meant by that but his comment can be interpreted in a way that the 2001 Wimbledon champion might be someone who has unrealistic ideas. 

"Goran was my player! I know him very well. He likes fantasies, and that's not good for a coach. Especially a coach who takes care of the best player in the world. Plus, I'm not sure he notices the details very well in a tennis match," Armenulic added.

Novak Djokovic and Goran Ivanisevic
Novak Djokovic and Goran Ivanisevic© Getty Images Sport - Paul Kane

Now that Djokovic is without a coach, Armenulic isn't concerned by that as he believes the record 24-time Grand Slam champion already has a potential replacement in his mind. When asked about his opinion on who should Djokovic hire next, Armenulic said he would like to see the Serb start working with former eight-time Grand Slam champion Lendl. 

After a great tennis career, Lendl also proved himself as a coach as he guided Andy Murray to three Grand Slam titles. If you remember well, Murray was struggling to win a Grand Slam for years before hiring Lendl and making his big Slam breakthrough at the 2012 US Open.

"I think Ivan Lendl would be ideal. He is a serious man, he was a serious player. Plus, he approaches his work with utmost dedication," Armenulic explained. 

"First, he would bring safety to Novak, because he was such a player himself. From the baseline, Lendl was the king. The most confident tennis player even today in that segment of the game. Lendl had an active game from the baseline and there he was the best in the world, on clay. I think he could help Novak a lot before Roland Garros."

Armenulic: Djokovic should absolutely not return to working with Marian Vajda

One of the first names that popped up as a potential replacement was Djokovic's former long-time coach Vajda. With Vajda, Djokovic achieved his first tennis success and the two enjoyed a highly-successful in both of their stints.

After splitting in 2017 but reuniting in 2018, Djokovic and Vajda went their separate ways again in early 2022. Considering Djokovic's history with Vajda, some think the world No. 1 should definitely seriously consider hiring again the Slovak coach. 

But Armenulic doesn't agree with that at all as he thinks that a player should never return to its past coach. 

"I don't know.. Vajda was there. He worked with Novak. You should not return a coach. Never. You just do not do that," Armenulic said.

"Why? If it has been successful, it is expected to continue. But it is not certain, so the pressure is huge. And another important thing, Marjan Vajda is like a member of the Djokovic family, and that is not good."

Novak Djokovic and Marian Vajda
Novak Djokovic and Marian Vajda© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

On April 7th, the Monte Carlo Masters is kicking off and that's where Djokovic is scheduled to start his clay season. With Monte Carlo starting in 10 days, many are curious to see if Djokovic will have a new coach at the start of the clay season.

Goran Ivanisevic Novak Djokovic