Djokovic’s Former Coach Says He Has The Best Qualities Of Nadal And Federer- ‘A Mixture Of Both’
Marian Vajda won 20 Grand Slams alongside Novak Djokovic. The two parted ways this time last year due to “a professional issue”, with the 57-year-old admitting the split was “very difficult”. In an interview with Ole, Vajda also spoke about how Djokovic compares to Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and his feelings surrounding the Serbian’s most recent Australian Open win.
Novak Djokovic has the “complete game” of Roger Federer and the “tenacity” of Rafael Nadal, says the Serbian’s former coach Marian Vajda.
Vajda coached Djokovic from 2006-2017 and from 2018-2022, with the pair winning a total of 20 Grand Slams together.
Talking to Argentinean outlet Ole, Vajda spoke on the ‘Big Three’ that have dominated the men’s game – Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal – and what they have brought to professional tennis.
“Each one has their own [characteristics], but Novak is a mixture of both,” Vajda said. “He has the complete game of Roger and the tenacity of Nadal, and that combination is deadly.”
Vadja claimed that although the three have very different styles of play, their mentality is what allows them to maintain their high level.
“When it comes to tennis, everyone has their surface: Rafa loves clay, Roger hard courts, Nole grass. They have different styles and strategies of how to face the tournaments,” Vajda said.
“They always play well, and the objectives are the same: to be the best. They always want more and more and go forward. For 15-20 years, they were and still are the best. The mentality is key, and I think the rivalry [has] helped them: it is the fuel they have to continue.”
Vajda also commented on what caused him and Djokavic to part ways after so many successful years together, saying: “The relationship continues well, but it was cut off due to a professional issue.
“We spent 15 years together. He decided to play fewer tournaments and be with a smaller team, and Goran is number one on the team,” he said, referring to Goran Ivanisevic, the former world No. 2, who has been a part of Djokovic’s coaching staff since 2019.
“It was a very difficult separation on an emotional level for both, but life goes on and Novak continues to be Novak. He’s stabilising, he knows how to train, how to get along with Goran. I’m fine, he’s fine. And that’s how it has to be.
“I keep in touch with him; we chat often on WhatsApp and exchange messages. Last time, he sent me a football video. I always write to him after a victory and also at other times. And then Australia was no exception.”
Djokovic has continued to thrive, winning two Grand Slams since his split with Vajda, including the 2023 Australian Open, taking his total to 22 Grand Slam men’s singles titles.
The Serbian’s return to Melbourne was much anticipated after missing the tournament last year due to his Covid-19 vaccine stance.
Vajda said: “At the Australian Open, I saw his great relief for what happened last year and for the injury he suffered during the tournament. You could feel the emotions [when he won]. In that sense, I do miss being in those moments.”
Djokovic is now tied with Nadal for most Slams won by a male player, and his sights will surely be set on breaking the record, Vajda believes.
“That’s his goal. He has no limits, and I find that incredible. He is physically well, and for that he needs to be like this. If he has no injuries and remains physically fit, he has already shown at the Australian Open what he is capable of.
“I would like to meet him more often on the circuit and see him win more Grand Slams,” said Vajda, who now coaches world No. 52 Alex Molcan.
“I’ve been here for a long time and I’m still enjoying it. While I am satisfied with what I did and what I did with Novak, I still maintain the passion. I like to travel and that’s why I’m now with Alex Molcan with whom we have big ambitions.”