Djokovic re-hires coach after axing physio before Australian Open

Novak Djokovic reacts to his media coverage in February

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Novak Djokovic has been tinkering with his backroom team as anticipation builds ahead of his bid for a 10th Australian Open triumph. Djokovic has landed Down Under almost a year after being deported due to his unvaccinated status and preparations are already underway for the first Grand Slam of 2023 in Melbourne.

But it has not all been business as usual for Djokovic after returning to Australia early to sharpen his tools in next week’s Adelaide International 1 tournament. The Serbian has changed his coaching personnel on the eve of January’s Australian Open, where he is overwhelming favourite to match Rafael Nadal’s tally of 22 Grand Slam crowns.

Djokovic has overseen a physiotherapist change with Ulises Badio, the man he has worked with for five-and-a-half trophy laden years since May 2017, surprisingly no longer involved in the 35-year-old’s setup. 

Badio has been a crucial member of Djokovic’s team, but a deal could not be agreed to extend the duo’s collaboration and the Argentine will now be replaced by Claudio Zimaglia, who has been seen working with the player in Adelaide. Italian Zimaglia has previously worked alongside Milos Raonic, and most recently Brandon Nakashima. 

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He is also a teacher at the osteopathy academy in Torino and has established himself as a well respected figure in elite tennis. And Djokovic will also bring back physio Miljan Amanovic into his team in another notable change. Amanovic travelled alongside Djokovic for a decade between 2007 and 2017, before he stepped away to work at the star’s Novak Djokovic Tennis Centre. 

According to Serbian journalist Sasa Ozmo, Amanovic will be in the Djokovic camp for the Australian Open, which starts on January 16, and will work in a part-time collaboration with the Serb. “Miljan Amanović is also coming back to travel with me for a certain amount of weeks,” Djokovic confirmed. 

The Adelaide International 1 begins on New Year’s Day and serves as the final warm-up event before Djokovic’s tilt at a magical tenth Melbourne victory. Djokovic is no doubt relieved that he is not at the centre of a global media frenzy this time out on his return Down Under before the 2023 tournament. 

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He was kicked out of the country on the eve of the 2022 event after the visa saga that transcended the sport 12 months ago. But he has so far received a warm reception from Aussie fans and is relishing the return to Melbourne, the city where he has enjoyed unprecedented success on the court in his storied career.

“It’s great to be back in Australia,” he said in a press conference on Thursday. “It’s a country where I’ve had tremendous success in my career, particularly in Melbourne. 

It’s by far my most successful Grand Slam. I’m hoping that everything is going to be positive. Obviously [fans’ reactions] is not something that I can predict. I’ll do my best to play good tennis and bring good emotions and good feelings to the crowd.”

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