As Novak Djokovic prepares to make his comeback to the ATP World Tour at the start of the 2018 season, he’s announced a new addition to his coaching team - the recently-retired Radek Stepanek.
And for many reasons, the Czech could do a lot of good for Djokovic.
First, and perhaps most importantly, his career credentials. Stepanek turned pro all the way back in 1996 and only retired this year, and in his more than 20 years as a professional tennis player he won five ATP World Tour titles, made the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 2006, scored 24 wins over Top 10 players and made it all the way to No.8 in the world himself (after that Wimbledon quarterfinal).
Stepanek’s biggest win came against a No.1-ranked Roger Federer at Rome in 2008, and his biggest title came at the ATP World Tour 500-level event in Washington DC in 2011 - here are the highlights:
Stepanek also knows how to play against Djokovic’s chief rivals. He’s never beaten Rafael Nadal (0-7) but he has wins over Federer (2-14), Andy Murray (2-7) and Stan Wawrinka (4-3).
Perhaps just as importantly, he knows Djokovic’s game inside out. He’s played against the Serb 14 times before, and though he only won one of those 14 meetings, he won sets in four of the other meetings, including in a nail-biting four-setter at Wimbledon three years ago. See highlights here:
Last but not least, Stepanek’s doubles career could bring a lot to Djokovic’s game. For years Boris Becker helped Djokovic improve his net game, and Stepanek could do the same - he’s a former No.4 in the team discipline with 18 career titles, including two Grand Slam titles with Leander Paes.
Here’s some of the shot variety and net play that made Stepanek so successful in doubles:
Needless to say, with former World No.1 Andre Agassi and former Top 10 player Stepanek on his coaching team, we could see a new Djokovic in 2018. We’ll have it all for you on Tennis Channel…