It was, without a doubt, one of the more original ways to announce a new coach.
A whole lot more entertaining than a dry press release or a quick Tweet.
Former No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is getting ready to return to action in a month after a long absence due to an elbow injury, decided to try out the latest thing, Instagram Live.
He looked pretty excited about the new toy. And he looked in great spirits overall. And why not. He looks to be preparing for a return after so many months during which he didn’t even hit a tennis ball.
As Djokovic toured his gym, he decided to try out the feature that allows you to call up anyone who is watching the live stream.
The first connection, with a woman in Argentina, had technical issues.
The second caught another Argentine Djokovic fan at school. And she just couldn’t even believe it.
And then – the kicker.
Djokovic “noticed” his friend Radek Stepanek was among those making comments. So he called him up.
ND: “What are you up to? What’s your next step?”
RS: “I’m enjoying the time that I don’t need to wake up in the morning, go to practice. Don’t have to discipline any more. Just looking around what comes next.
RS: “So you have something for me, or what?”
ND: “I’m actually looking for another coach. I don’t know what you have in mind. But if you have nothing better to do, maybe we can give it a shot. What do you say?”
RS: “Why not? Let’s give it a shot.
ND: “This is amazing. You didn’t even hear anything I had to offer but you accepted.
RS: “What do you offer?”
ND: “I can offer some real, real special things. Green juice every Wednesday – every first Wednesday of the month. I can offer you some acai balls on overseas fights – only one way, not return. It’s too expensive. And thats all, for the beginning.”
RS: “I think your offer was pretty generous to start with, so if I get some extra coconut on the acai balls, than I’m in.”
ND: “Give me a second please … coconut …
“I would love to give you a straight answer now. I have my manager here …
“So my answer is yes, but I have another question. It’s already 30th November. We have to be on the court literally tomorrow. So I don’t know how we’re going to make this happen.
RS: “I’m ready to go.”
And then, Djokovic opens the door to an office – and there’s his new coach.
It really was a fun way to get the fans involved in the announcement.
“Radek is one of my very close friends on the tour and I was always impressed with his level of determination, passion and love for the sport. The fact that he just recently retired at the age of 37 speaks volumes of his love for the game. He has lot of experience and knowledge, and he has played on a high level for many years. I am excited to join our forces together and cannot wait to compete again having a new team to back me up,” Djokovic said on his website.
“On Andre’s suggestion I pursued Radek, therefore I am sure the two of them will work well together. The new season is about to start and there is a long way to go back to where I left off. We are aware that I need to go step by step, not hurrying anything. I feel much better now, and I can’t wait to play matches again.”
Stepanek – Agassi a tag team
The moment veteran Stepanek announced his retirement – and even before that – the speculation began that he might begin working with Djokovic.
The two are friends. They have practiced together often, and have remained pals despite the Serb’s overwhelming 13-1 record against the Czech.
They have squared off on a lot of major occasions – at all the Grand Slams except the French Open, and in the Davis Cup final.
And Djokovic has been looking for a day-to-day coach to supplement the weeks he’ll have mentor Andre Agassi by his side.
Stepanek obviously knows all of Djokovic’s opponents, and has played them all.
The all-court game and canny court sense that allowed him to squeeze the most out of a long career contains a treasure trove of possible options Djokovic can add to his own game.
What Djokovic already has in his game has been more than enough to dominate men’s tennis for extended periods over the last few years.
Still, everyone out there is looking to get better – or get left behind.
And the company will be entertaining. He also will have a coach who can hit with him on the practice court – an added bonus.
The most positive thing is that Djokovic is out hitting balls and training. Only a month remains before he heads to Abu Dhabi for the six-player exhibition that will mark his first official time on the court since Wimbledon last July.
After that, a quick hop over to Doha for his first ATP Tour event. And then, the Australian Open.
— Jelena Djokovic (@JelenaRisticNDF) November 30, 2017