Novak training with God Marian Vajda!!! 🙌🏼 pic.twitter.com/UtoTf1Donw
— Ashish (@Ashish_1603) April 8, 2018
Marian Vajda working with Novak Djokovic is a good sign. He is comfortable with Vajda’s approach. Djokovic took a lot of criticism when he split with Todd Martin and worked with Vajda only in Spring 2010. Djokovic then reached the US Open final in 2010 and took over tennis in 2011. Champions tend to know what they need.
Pete Sampras was written off prior to the 2002 US Open. 7 matches later he won his 14th major. Sampras reunited with Paul Annacone shortly before his sendoff at the 2002 US Open. Jimmy Connors won 0 majors 1979-1981. He kept doing the same things (against every pundit’s advice) and won Wimbledon and the US Open in 1982 and took another US Open in 1983.
That leads me to my piece of advice. I first think Vajda is absolutely the right person for Novak Djokovic to work with on a full-time basis. I’d simply add that Novak may want to spend 1 to 2 weeks per year hitting with either Sampras or Connors.
Sampras has never worked with a pro in any sort of official advisory capacity, so getting to pick Sampras’ brain would be a big deal. Sampras is kind of the anti-Agassi so if Novak and Agassi agreed to disagree one too many times it is possible that Djokovic would gel with Sampras. Pistol Pete also worked out with Lendl early in his career, trained alongside Jim Courier as young pros, worked with Tim Gullikson, Paul Annacone, Tom Gullikson, and Jose Higeuras during his time on tour.
Jimmy Connors, a different sort of anti-Agassi, would have more than a passing familiarity with a game based upon a great return of serve and superior movement. Connors as a coach as seemingly emphasized confidence in one’s existing game over and above any notions of radically restructuring one’s game. Djokovic’s level of play from January 2015-June 2016 is higher than anything on tour right now. Connors would likely hammer that message home over and over again.
In the cases of both Connors and Sampras, neither is going to be a full-time coach who would travel with Djokovic. Rather they could be a resource during a lull in Novak’s schedule or during the offseason. In either case, adding a super-consultant to a coach who knows Djokovic as well as Vajda does might be the best of both worlds.