Andre Agassi has a fan in the Duchess of Cambridge, who recently revealed that as a young girl, she loved watching him and his wife Steffi Graf take to the courts. Speaking to HELLO! Online at Wimbledon, the former World No. 1 tennis star opened up about his brief encounter with Kate, and not fully understanding "the whole royalty thing".
"We sat next to each other and watched the semi-finals about five years ago," said Andre, who was in the royal box with his wife Steffi as well as Kate's husband Prince William in 2012. "She's a sweetheart of a lady. She's a real sweetheart. I don't know her well and quite honestly I don't get the whole royalty thing – in the sense that they're celebrities on steroids or something. I can empathise with some of that, but it's fascinating to watch from the outside. You have to be on your game all the time!"
Prince William and Kate attend Wimbledon in 2012 with Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi
Andre and his wife Steffi, who was also ranked No. 1 during her career, have a son Jaden, 15, and a 13-year-old daughter Jaz, but their children are showing no signs of following in their parents' footsteps. "No, not at all," said Andre, when asked if they were future tennis players in the making. "My son's into baseball and my daughter gets into a lot of different things seasonally – dance one year, one part of the year kickboxing. She's really active, but there's no pressure. It's their choice and I'm glad they didn't choose tennis. It's a tough world. I want them to have choice and ownership of their choice. I didn't have that. I learnt what I don't want to do in many cases from my father."
"She's a sweetheart of a lady. She's a real sweetheart," said Andre of the Duchess
Fans will have watched Andre win Grand Slam after Grand Slam in the nineties. His breakthrough came at Wimbledon some 25 years ago – his first Grand Slam victory – so it's no surprise that the tournament still holds a special place for him. Andre is currently coaching Novak Djokovic, but the retired tennis legend, who has been very open about his love-hate relationship with the game, admitted it took some convincing to get him on board.
"I never decided to go into coaching," said Andre. "It kind of morphed about seven weeks ago when Novak was pretty persuasive, persistent. I was reluctant because it's not a convenient time in my life. I've got a lot on my plate. But I did see the ability to take someone as good as him, who has had as much experience as he has, and give them some tools. And I think a guy like that could do a lot with those tools. If he feels like I can help, then I'll always consider a long-term partnership. Novak's a really good man, he's a special person."
"Novak's a really good man, he's a special person," said the tennis coach
Andre, who was pushed into professional tennis by his father, added: "As far as loving the game, I don't think I ever went overnight into loving the game. I learnt to get out of my own way and see the game for what it was and then I slowly had experiences on a tennis court that allowed me to feel grateful, and then that built and built through the latter part of my career. And now it's different. The edge has gone, I respect what it's done, it's also taken a lot, it's been hard on my body. I don't know if it was ever a switch to love. It was a learned appreciation."
Andre is global ambassador for Lavazza
Andre was not only attending Wimbledon as Djokovic's coach, but as a global ambassador for Lavazza, the official coffee of the championships for the seventh year running. Unsurprisingly, Andre is a big coffee lover. "I drink two to four espressos a day, straight to the point, it helps," he said. "I'll have a couple in the morning and then like one in the afternoon to get me over the hump. As for my diet, I can't out train bad habits anymore because of my body. As tough as it is, I stick to a lot of protein, not too many carbs after a certain time – just some basic rules of engagement."
Novak Djokovic's recent slump hit a new low in the Australian Open after he lost in five sets to 117th-ranked Denis Isotomin in the second round.
The loss was Djokovic's earliest exit in a major since 2008 and considered, by some, the "most shocking loss" of his career.
For Djokovic, who lost the world No. 1 ranking in November, it raises more questions about why he is suddenly struggling.
Djokovic's former coach, legendary tennis player Boris Becker, told The New York Times' Christopher Clarey that off-court issues may be plaguing him. Becker split with Djokovic last year and told Clarey that he thought tennis was no longer Djokovic's top priority.
"Obviously the second half of last year, there was a different priority. Novak was the first one to admit that, and I think that was the main reason for me to stop this because I thought my job isn't that important anymore obviously."
According to Clarey, after the U.S. Open last year, Djokovic referenced "private issues" weighing on him.
Whatever Djokovic may be struggling with off the court, Becker believe it's messing with his competitive mentality.
"Having watched the match today, I felt he tried and he played five sets and four and a half hours, but I didn't see the intensity, didn't see the absolute will to win, didn't see him mentally going crazy.
"He always was very nonchalant about it, and that is not the Novak that I know. I'd rather see him break a racket or pull the shirt or something, for him to get emotional. I thought it was very even keel the whole match through, and that was unusual, and I don't know what to make of that."
Becker also referred to Djokovic as playing with "the hand brake on."
Of course, part of Djokovic's loss was the astonishing play and grit of Isotomin, who Djokovic noted after the match was a "well-deserved winner."
However, for a player who was beginning to look unbeatable, Djokovic's sudden decline is raising questions about his health and his mental state. Becker told Clarey that he hopes Djokovic " goes back to the drawing board and remembers what made him good in the first place." However, as Becker suggests, until tennis is Djokovic's top priority, the struggles may continue.
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Published: 17:04 BST, 2 June 2017 | Updated: 18:31 BST, 2 June 2017
Andre Agassi is ready to continue his coaching arrangement with Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon - and has revealed he is not being paid by the world number two.
Djokovic turned to Agassi after splitting from his long-time coaching team in April.
The French Open is their first tournament together but Agassi must head home to Las Vegas this weekend to fulfil prior arrangements.
Andre Agassi has admitted he is coaching Novak Djokovic for free and is happy to continue
Agassi has only been seen sporadically on the tennis tour since retiring, instead focusing on his foundation for education and spending time at home with wife Steffi Graf and their two children.
It remains unclear how much time the 47-year-old will be prepared to spend with Djokovic, but Wimbledon is on the cards.RELATED ARTICLES Share this article
Explaining how their partnership came about, Agassi told Eurosport: 'It was a surprise for me. I got a call from him late in Monte Carlo after he was done and he wanted to talk tennis and he wanted to talk the possibility of working (together).
'I said, 'Maybe I can help you over the phone? I don't think you need much but this is not possible for me with the balance of my life'.
'And then Steffi says, 'Maybe you'll enjoy it'. I said, 'You think?' I respect her so much. So I said, 'I'll go early, since I have to be in Paris any way and I'll just get to know him'.
The duo have been working together since Djokovic parted company with his coaching team
'He's a very inspirational guy for me. I do this on my own time, I do it on my money, I don't want anything, I don't need anything.
'I want to help him. And I think it helps the game. Him at his best is good for the game and it's a way I can help him hopefully.'
On Wimbledon, Agassi added: 'If he wants me there, I will come and we'll figure it out. I have a lot of responsibilities so whatever's practical and achievable, 100 per cent I will make the effort.'
Agassi was talking to Boris Becker, his predecessor as Djokovic's 'super coach', and was full of praise for the work they have done so far.
Agassi is surprised by how quickly Djokovic learns and wants the Serbian to play until he is 30
The eight-time grand slam champion said of Djokovic: 'I'm shocked what a fast learner he is. Every day I've seen him get better.
'He's a guy that throws body blow after body blow after body blow and he's just never thought a lot about the other side of the court.
'I think there's ways he can take his game at 30 years old, and older, because hopefully he's going to still want to play for a while. And then he can start to make it easier for himself by knowing what he should do with the guy across the net.'RELATED ARTICLES Share this article Share or comment on this article Most watched Sport videos MOST READ SPORT
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LONDON (Reuters) - Andre Agassi has big plans for Novak Djokovic as he looks to steer him back toward his best tennis but there is one thing he won’t be advocating - a break.
Former world No. 1 Mats Wilander was among those to suggest that the best thing Djokovic could do would be to take an extended break after Wimbledon, allowing him to rest and regain the form that deserted him in the first half of the year.
But Agassi, who began working with Djokovic at the French Open last month, says Djokovic is motivated to do the hard work required now, rather than later.
“What’s really beneficial is being clear,” Agassi said. “A break isn’t beneficial if you’re not giving yourself a break because you know you want to be doing something else.
“Playing isn’t beneficial when you’re spent and you feel like you need a break and your team’s pushing you to play. So does he need a break? No, I think he’s ready and he has clear objectives.”
When Djokovic was beaten by Dominic Thiem in the French Open quarter-finals, Agassi had already left Paris, due to prior commitments.
He will be at Wimbledon throughout – handily coinciding with his role as ambassador for the Italian coffee company, Lavazza. The way Djokovic faded in the third set against Thiem in Paris led some to suggest that Agassi may have underestimated the magnitude of his task.
But as the Serb earned his first title since January by winning in Eastbourne last weekend, former world number one Agassi said he had not been under any illusions before accepting the role, a job he says he is doing for free.
“You’ve got to remember my history coming into this - I’ve seen behind the curtain so I don’t look at these guys as machines,” said the 47-year-old American who won eight grand slam titles.
“I knew what I was getting into. I knew it was a daunting task to care about somebody and care about him enough to show reservations. It’s easy to say this is how you play your best tennis but he knows that, everybody knows,” he added.
“We all go through that as former number one players in the world or champions who have gotten over the finishing line.
“We all go through that and I think I went through that as extreme as anybody.”
Agassi said he was confident Djokovic would find a way back to his best, sooner rather than later.
“I’m learning (about) somebody who has many more skills than me and a huge heart – the heart of a lion – and the work ethic of a soldier,” he said.
“It’s beautiful tools to work with. I can honestly say the hardest part about winning Wimbledon, the French or any of the slams, with his skill-set would be sleeping at night because I’d be excited to play the next day.”
Editing by Ed Osmond
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