DOHA, January 3, 2017
Novak Djokovic had a successful start into the new tennis season, winning his opening match at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha on Monday against German Jan-Lennard Struff in straight sets. After his first round encounter, the World No. 2 spoke about the comeback of Dusan Vemic to his coaching team.
“He brings a lot of calmness for sure. He’s quite a calm guy. But he’s also somebody that understands the game very well. He was playing singles and doubles. I think he reached semis of Grand Slam doubles, and he’s been on the tour as a player and a coach for a long time,” Djokovic explained his decision.
As part of the Djokovic team, Vemić coached alongside the Serbian’s longtime coach Marian Vajda in most of the majors between 2011 and 2013. During that time, Djokovic won two grand slam titles at the Australian Open and one grand slam title at the US Open as well as the 2012 ATP World Tour Finals in London.
“I’ve know him since I was five, six, seven years old. We grew up in the same tennis club. He was at the time the best player we got in the country, we had in the country. He was always treating me very friendly, always kind, helpful, always available for any advices,” said Djokovic, who parted ways with Boris Becker at the end of the last season.
“I think that relationship that we established at that time kind of carried on all the way to this moment. We feel very close. We are more than friends. We feel like we are family. It’s great to have him on board, because we work together before, and then several years we didn’t.
“Then last season he was in Miami for the tournament and now he’s back as a second coach in the team officially. So I’m really glad, because I have that friendly relationship with him and also the professional relationship. It’s well balanced. Him and Marián get along very well. So keeping things very simple.”
Rivalries With Nadal, Murray And Federer helped Djokovic To Improve
It is the third year in a row and fifth time in his career that Djokovic is playing in the opening week of the ATP World Tour season but the first time without Rafael Nadal joining him in the Doha draw. After taking the title at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, the Spaniard headed for the Brisbane International 250 event.
“I think with Rafa that rivalry is really something special. The amount of matches that we played against each other in some, you know, obviously Grand Slam finals, especially the one in Australian Open that went almost six hours. That’s one of the highlights of our rivalry back in 2012,” Djokovic told. Of course there have also been other rivalries with Roger Federer and Andy Murray.
“Each of the rivalries with these three guys is particular in its own way. I think in the last 15 months there is more rivalry between Murray and myself that dates back many years ago. I think we played against each other when we were 11 for the first time.
“Each of those three guys has made me a better player as well in the process. I had to figure out the ways to win against all of them, especially Nadal and Federer at the time when I was making my breakthrough. It was couple of years that I was in doubt whether or not I could break the dominance of these two guys.
“I had to work really hard and figure out ways to improve and get better and be able to win against them in big tournaments. That’s what started to happen. All these guys have definitely influenced my evolution.”