Ex-Wimbledon champion tells what it is exactly that Novak Djokovic needs now

Marion Bartoli shares her thoughts on Djokovic's coaching situation.

by Dzevad Mesic
Ex-Wimbledon champion tells what it is exactly that Novak Djokovic needs now
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli thinks Novak Djokovic would do just fine without a coach tennis-wise but it's just that he needs someone to help him motivate himself again to keep going after everything that he has already achieved. 

After a historic 2023 season, Djokovic hasn't been looking like his usual self at the start of 2024. After being dismantled by Jannik Sinner in the Australian Open semifinal, Djokovic wasn't up to his standard at the Indian Wells Masters either, having shockingly lost in the third round to qualifier Luca Nardi. 

Djokovic, who looked like he was missing some spark and that something was just off in his game in those first few tournaments, reacted by making a radical move and firing Ivanisevic. Following his abrupt decision to part ways with Ivanisevic, the 36-year-old Serb admitted they got saturated of working together and that both needed something new.

Two days after splitting with Ivanisevic, Djokovic was spotted practicing with former doubles world No. 1 Nenad Zimonjic and they also traveled together to Monte Carlo. In Zimonjic, Djokovic has someone he knows pretty well and someone who probably has a good picture of what he needs at this moment. 

Reflecting on everything that has happened over the last 10 days, former world No. 7 Bartoli thinks it's not about coaching itself but rather Djokovic finding the right person to continue with. 

“I think there was a bit of weariness. I tell myself that he made this decision to try to give himself a boost," Bartoli told L'Equipe.

"Nenad (Zimonjic) is going to do Monteā€Carlo with him, and then they will see. At this stage of his career, it's not even coaching that Novak really needs anymore, he knows everything he does to the millimeter. I think he wants to create a dynamic to have a new lease of life. 

"Nenad knows him extremely well, notably thanks to the Davis Cup. And having played with him as a legend at Wimbledon in 2022, I know that he had spent the fortnight with him."

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic © Getty Images Sport - Michael Owens

Is Zimonjic becoming Djokovic's coach a done deal?

When asked if he had found a replacement for Ivanisevic last Thursday, Djokovic said he didn't have a coach and claimed that he wasn't even sure if he would hire one. 

But then, the following days Serbian reporters pictured Djokovic on the practice court with Zimonjic. Naturally, that led to many believing that Djokovic had decided to hire Zimonjic or was leaning toward making that decision. 

"I still don't have a clear idea who it could be and whether there will be anyone at all," Djokovic said in Belgrade a day after he officially announced the end of his partnership with Ivanisevic.

"Simply, I've always had a coach from a young age. I'm trying now to feel what pleases me at the moment and what I think is necessary. You will be informed in time, of course, if someone comes."

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic © Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman

Ivanisevic hopes Zimonjic becomes Djokovic's new coach

While Djokovic is currently with Zimonjic - a former three-time men's Grand Slam doubles champion and a former five-time mixed doubles champion - in Monte Carlo, the 24-time Grand Slam champion hasn't yet made any official announcements regarding their work.

But since Zimonjic is accompanying Djokovic in Monte Carlo, it is clear that they will at least work for the next week. 

Asked to address Djokovic being spotted with Zimonjic, Ivanisevic declared him "the perfect person" for the world No. 1 and just like Bartoli, the Croatian added that working with someone he already knows is probably what the 36-year-old needs at this stage of his career. 

"The most important thing in this whole story is that he knows Novak," Ivanisevic told Sport Klub.

"Novak doesn't need a new coach now (someone he doesn't already know), until he gets to know him, this (Novak) would go 'crazy' after ten days, and that coach would wonder what was going on. 

"My theory is - a Balkan man can train anyone, but only a person from this area can train a Balkan man. Marjan (Vajda) is Slovak, but we are close, while Boris worked very well with him, as he is a very intelligent person in tennis. He helped him a lot."

Novak Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic
Novak Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic © Dan Mullan

When Djokovic kicks off his Monte Carlo campaign, many will be interested in seeing if firing Ivanisevic and giving a shock therapy to himself will lead to the Serb playing better and potentially winning his first title of the 2024 season. If Djokovic wins Monte Carlo this year, that will be his third title at the tournament.

Wimbledon Novak Djokovic Marion Bartoli