May 5, 2017 / 11:38 AM / 2 years ago

Djokovic splits with coaching team in bid to rediscover spark

(Reuters) - World number two Novak Djokovic ditched his entire coaching team on Friday saying he needs to rediscover the “spark” that has been absent from his game since he won the 2016 French Open.

Tennis - Mexican Open - Men's Singles - Quarter-Final - Acapulco, Mexico - 02/03/17 - Serbia's Novak Djokovic in action against Australia's Nick Kyrgios. REUTERS/Henry Romero

In a lengthy statement on his website, the 29-year-old Serb said he had parted ways with coach Marian Vajda as well as fitness coach Gebhard Phil Gritsch, and physio Miljan Amanovic.

Djokovic was knocked off the top of the ATP rankings last November by Britain’s Andy Murray and shortly afterwards split with Boris Becker who he added to his team in 2013.

He won six of his 12 grand slam titles with German former world number one Becker in his corner.

The decision, according to Djokovic, was made at the Monte Carlo Masters where he was beaten in the quarter-finals by Belgium’s David Goffin, the latest in a run of surprise losses.

“I am forever grateful to Marian, GG and Miljan for decade of friendship, professionalism and commitment to my career goals,” Djokovic said. “Without their support I couldn’t have achieved these professional heights.

“It was not an easy decision, but we all felt that we need a change. I enjoy this journey, it feels like I am starting something new again and I love this challenge.

“I am a hunter and my biggest goal is to find the winning spark on the court again.”

Djokovic has struggled since completing his career grand slam by winning the French Open last year.

He suffered a shock third-round defeat by Sam Querrey at Wimbledon and although he reached the U.S. Open final, he was beaten by Swiss Stan Wawrinka. The biggest shock came at the Australian Open where the six-times champion lost to 117th-ranked Denis Istomin in the second round.

He also suffered successive defeats to Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in Acapulco and Indian Wells before missing the Miami Open with an elbow injury.

Djokovic’s overhaul by Murray at the top of the rankings ended a run of more than two years as number one for the Serb who has spent 223 weeks at the summit during his career.

Djokovic, who had been with Slovakia’s Vajda since 2006, said he will go it alone for the time being as he searched for a new head coach.

“I feel like this is a new chapter in my life,” he said.

“I have been on the tour long enough to know how to manage daily routines and I don’t want to rush my decision.

“I will be on the tour alone for a while with support of my family and management.”

Djokovic is not the first top player to be without a coach.

Murray has flown solo on occasions, as has 18-times grand slam champion Roger Federer.

Writing by Martyn Herman; reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Chopra and Pritha Sarkar

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