There is a secret connection between Marian Vajda and Novak Djokovic. When they are together – they win. No doubt in this winning combination. These days, in Paris, at Roland Garros, they train together with full steam, as in the old, good times. Here, on the Parisian clay, Vajda opened for an exclusive conversation with ‘NOVOSTI‘.
Q. Do you know what “Vajda” means in Serbian?
Marian Vajda: Someone from Novak’s family told me that already. I was surprised, but it seems to be the truth, and that, in a certain way, I am useful to Novak. From the time we met, our cooperation and his career were constantly going along the ascending path.
The book was then closed, but now we have opened a new chapter.
Q. How did the interruption in the cooperation take place?
Marian Vajda: Novak was right at the time. We have accomplished so much together, achieved an incredible success. When you conquer all four grand slams, you ask yourself what else you could accomplish on a professional level?
Novak is fantastic, he always tried to achieve as much as possible in this sport. But he wanted to dedicate time to his family, to enjoy it. There is another side of life, and Novak is, like all of us, a human being.
Q. Have you talked about ‘a break’ before the split?
Marian Vajda: Many times after Roland Garros we talked about what could be his next goal. Then there came injuries. Everything was gathered. There were many questions that were suddenly raised. It was clear he wanted to make a small break and to do something else in his life.
Q. How you experienced the separation from Novak?
Marian Vajda: Emotionally it was hard, which is quite normal, because we went through a lot together. But, honestly, I was happy that I was finally home. And I wanted to be with my family. All these years we have travelled all the time. I also needed a break. Fishing, seeing friends, going out, spending time with my family. I enjoyed it. With Novak I stayed in touch, just as family members communicate.
Q. Who called first (for re-union)?
Marian Vajda: Novak once sent me a message asking what I think about his game today. That’s clever! (laughter)
What could I answer him after a year break? I did not expect the invitation to come back. Novak is for me a champion and I only see him like that. I asked him to tell me honestly if he really wanted me to come back? If he had any doubt, I would not be there. I asked for a few days to think and talk with my family. But, of course, I immediately knew the answer.
Q. What makes Novak and Vajda a ‘winning combination’?
Marian Vajda: It may be in the fact that we go way back. I know him by heart, in all segments, from tennis, to private life. We spent so much time together, 24 hours a day. I think with me, there’s a sense of security. He knows he can trust me, in every way.
Q. Can Novak return to the top?
Marian Vajda: There’s no doubt about that. He is on the right track, but it still needs work. I think he is now at 80 percent from his best days. Against Nadal in Rome he showed what he can do. I see that he is very dedicated, that he has a lot of confidence. Just a matter of time till we can come back to the old path of glory. It’s close. If he goes on like this, it’s going to be very fast.
Q. Is there something new in your work?
Marian Vajda: We have a slightly different approach, as strategy and analysis are even more active. I’d say it’s all the same, but there’s something more.
Q. Did Novak fully recover?
Marian Vajda: His arm is great. He no longer feels the consequence of the injury. He is ready to be a champion again.
Q. Did you find Novak the same as before?
Marian Vajda: Even better, with his life philosophy. He is even more mature, not only as a player, but also as a father and husband. He found a balance between family and tennis. The family gives him energy, and it’s a winning combination.
Q. How long will you work together?
Marian Vajda: We will see. There is no pressure from any side. We’re going to sit after Roland Garros to talk. One thing is for sure – I want to stay with Novak as long as possible.
Q. How much longer do you think Novak can still play?
Marian Vajda: For years, for sure.
Q. It is known what Novak learnt from the cooperation with you, and, on the other hand, what did you, from all these years, learned from it?
Marian Vajda: A lot! I’ve trained a lot of tennis players, but I never had a champion like him. His mental strength to concentrate on winning the matches is incredible. The focus of the game and the victory in every match is remarkable.
I’ve never seen it before. As a person, it is absolutely an example. He is very intelligent and down to the earth. He has a big heart, he wants to help everyone, in Serbia and in abroad.
© NOVOSTI (Translated with Google Translate)
To read the interview in Serbian, click below: