Why didn’t Goran Ivanisevic win Coach of the Year?

Novak Djokovic has hit out at the ATP this week in response to Goran Ivanisevic missing out on Coach of the Year. Was he right to do so?

Goran Ivanisevic Goran Ivanisevic (Fotoarena/Panoramic)

Novak Djokovic has made a not-so-subtle dig at the ATP this morning after his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, was snubbed for the Coach of the Year award at the recent ATP awards.

The Serbian began by congratulating Simone Vagnozzi and Darren Cahill, the duo who have been responsible for the rise of Jannik Sinner in 2023.

However, in the same breath, he made it clear that he thought the wrong decision was made, posting the following on Instagram:

“Goran [Ivanisevic], I guess we need to win 4/4 Slams in order for you to (maybe) be considered Coach of the Year. Winning year-end No 1, three Grand Slams, World Tour Finals and making history of the sport is not enough, my dear coach.”

Should Ivanisevic have won Coach of the Year instead of Vagnozzi/Cahill?

With Djokovic’s most recent comments, the big question is: was he right? Should Ivanisevic have been given the award instead of Vagnozzi and Cahill?

Here’s the argument either way:

Under Ivanisevic this year, Djokovic:

  • Climbed from world No 5 to world No 1 (eighth year-end No 1 finish)
  • Won 56 matches and lost seven (win rate of 88.89 percent, 17-5 against top 10)
  • Claimed seven titles (including three Grand Slams, two Masters and the ATP Finals)

Meanwhile, under Vognozzi and Cahill in 2023, Sinner:

  • Climbed from world No 15 to world No 4 (new career-high)
  • Won 64 matches and lost 15 (win rate of 81.01 percent, 13-6 against top 10)
  • Claimed four titles (including first Masters 1000)

Undeniably, Djokovic had the better year, with a higher win percentage, more and bigger titles, plus a higher ranking and stronger strike rate against the world’s best.

However, there is one area where Sinner does have the edge over Djokovic–the extent of his improvement. 

Jannik Sinner - Cup Davis 2023
Zuma / Panoramic

While Djokovic moved from No 5 to No 1, the Serbian has been there before. This is the eighth year he’s finished in the No 1 spot, and third time he’s won three Grand Slams. Sinner, on the other hand, has broken fresh ground, establishing himself as a deserved member of the world’s top four, winning his first big title, and making big leaps mentally and physically.

Is Coach of the Year biased towards ‘most improved’ player?

While the raw stats above indicate that Djokovic has been ahead of Sinner in virtually every area, the reality is, past ATP awards have shown us that it’s not actually pure success which the Coach of the Year award is predicated on.

For example, previous winners include:

It’s clear that none of these players were in the conversation for best player of the year, and yet their coaches were awarded the highest honours. 

In its description of the award, the ATP states that Coach of the Year is given to “the ATP coach who helped guide their player to a higher level of performance during the year.” 

Based on this description, and the track record of who’s won the award, it’s more than fair that Sinner’s coaches were given the prize. The Italian’s progress this season has been one of the year’s big talking points, and noted by his duel wins over Djokovic himself in the final fortnight of the season.

While it’s understandable that Djokovic wants his Ivanisevic to be recognised, the reality is, the 24-time Grand Slam champion was already at the top of the sport coming into this year, and little has changed in 2023.

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