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Marian Vajda explains decision to coach Alex Molcan: “I wanted to work with a Slovak”

Novak Djokovic’s former coach says the lure of helping a Slovak player was too good to resist

Marian Vajda in 2013 Marian Vajda in 2013 © Tennis Mag / Panoramic

Marian Vajda, the long-time coach of Novak Djokovic, will be the head coach to his countryman Alex Molcan.

The pair are already practising in Bratislava and they are due to join forces in Rome next week.

Karol Beck, former world No 36, will stay as part of Molcan’s team and he will travel to big tournaments alongside Vajda.

“Novak and me are still friends, it was an amicable split. I told Goran (Ivanisevic, Djokovic’s coach) that we will practice together in Paris. I did not tell Novak (about working with Molcan), but I did tell Goran, so I am sure Novak knows”, Vajda told reporters in Bratislava.

Vajda on Djokovic split: “He wanted to have only one coach”

Vajda and Djokovic ended their cooperation for the second time following the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, a decision that was only made public at the start of March.

“It was a combination of various reasons: we have been together for a really long time and his decisions showed that he wanted to focus on Grand Slam tournaments – that is why he might think that it is not ideal to have so many people in his team. He wanted to reduce it and have only one coach”, said Vajda before adding:

“I don’t know for sure, because I never asked him, but I assume from my analysis of his tournament schedule, that he wanted to reduce his team, and he chose Goran Ivanisevic. It did not make sense for a coach to coach him only him on Grand Slams, because a coach needs a long-term plan”.

When asked whether Djokovic suggested such an arrangement – to have Vajda solely on Grand Slams – the Slovakian coach responded: “I don’t know, because I never asked”.

Vajda recently turned 57 and he has been a part of every single one of Djokovic’s 20 Grand Slam titles. He still follows the matches of his former pupil.

“He was not in great shape because of the problems at the beginning of year. He doesn’t have enough matches under his belt, and that is why he is now trying to play everywhere he can. He is getting back to his old self, even though in Belgrade final he still wasn’t in best shape. He might be struggling a bit in Madrid and Rome, but I think he will be ready for Roland Garros”.

Goran Ivanisevic and Marian Vajda, Novak Djokovic's coaches
Goran Ivanisevic and Marian Vajda

Vajda: “I wanted to help a Slovakian player”

Following his split with Djokovic, Vajda was contacted by agents of a number of top 10 players, but he did not want to reveal any names.

“I am glad that I will coach the best Slovakin player, it was the decisive factor,” he said. “I have had a lot of offers after my cooperation with Novak ended, but I wanted to help a Slovakian player – it gave me new energy”.

Asked if there were any similarities between Molcan and Djokovic, Vajda said: “Alex has the same ranking Novak had when we started working together.”

Molcan, a left-hander from Bratislava, currently sits at 47th in the world and is 10-7 for the season.

Djokovic recently revealed that one of his physiotherapists Miljan Amanović won’t be travelling with him any longer, but said there won’t be new additions to the team.

“No, no… It’s Goran (Ivanisevic, tennis coach), Marco (Panichi, fitness coach) and Uli (Badio, physiotherapist)“, Djokovic said. 

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