Who’s who in Novak’s team?

Published by Bede Briscomb

Novak Djokovic and his team training in July; Getty Images
He has the biggest entourage on tour…but what does everyone on Novak Djokovic’s team do?

After calling time on his 2017 season with an elbow injury in July, Novak Djokovic is looking rested and ready to return to the top. But with two GOATs at the top of their game, it won’t be easy. Luckily, Nole has an army around to assist in taking out those pesky Federers and Nadals.

Related: Novak Djokovic brings Stepanek on board

Andre Agassi: coach

Agassi agreed to coach Djokovic for Roland Garros and Wimbledon without any plans for a long-term commitment. The Djokovic team has since said the American will return to a lead role in 2018, but will only travel to major tournaments.

Radek Stepanek: coach

Stepanek and Djokovic have long been best mates on tour. After retiring in November, the former world No.8 quickly joined Novak’s team as a coach who will travel full time. Fresh from leaving the tour and having battled many of Novak’s foes, Stepanek brings a unique perspective of the modern game that Agassi, who retired in 2006, may not be able to provide.

Craig O’Shannessy: strategist

O’Shannessy recently revealed that he was helping out Agassi and Stepanek in Monaco as Novak prepares for the Australian Open. He is a renowned tennis strategist, so while Andre and Radek hone Novak’s skills, Craig may be prepping the Serb with trends that developed during Djokovic time off the tour, as well as some key tactics to use against his likely competition.

Pepe Imaz: spiritual advisor

Other than his family, Imaz is just about the only man to retain a spot in Djokovic’s 2018 entourage. Over the years Novak has become more mellow, focusing on “happiness and harmony” – an outlook primarily influenced by Imaz.

DEBATE: Who’s going to have a better 2018, Djokovic or Murray?

Jelena Djokovic: director, ND foundation

Aside from being Novak’s wife and mother to his two children, Jelena handles most of Djokovic’s off-court business. She is a humanitarian and entrepreneur, and even though she’s got a full-time gig managing the Novak Djokovic Foundation, still manages to find time to attend most of his matches.

Ulises Badio: physio

Perhaps the most important member of the team, Badio is in charge of rehabilitating Djokovic’s bad elbow. “We are bringing it under control,” Badio told La Nacion in September. “‘Time was required to improve it. The decision he took allowed us to have a timetable and not go back and forth about treatment.”

Marco Panichi: fitness trainer

Panichi is a long-time tennis fitness coach, training players such as Svetlana Kuznetsova and Fabio Fognini. Before 2017, Novak was known as one of the fittest men on tour; in 2012 he defeated Rafael Nadal, also one of the fittest men on tour, in an Australian Open final that almost lasted six hours. It will be up to Panichi to ensure the 12-time Grand Slam champ returns to that elite level of stamina.

Marko Djokovic: training partner

Marko is Novak’s brother and often trains with him as a hitting partner. After retiring from the ATP tour without much success, Marko suffered depression and has since credited Pepe Imaz for curing him. Marko and Novak share similar interests in spiritual development.

Mario Ancic: coach

A former player himself, Ancic joined Djokovic in July as a coach, but Novak said it’s more informal than anything: “We don’t have any contracts. We don’t have any long-term agreements… First of all, I spoke to Andre. Andre absolutely agreed with Mario being that second person who might potentially be spending a little bit more time with me on the road.”

 

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