Marian Vajda

In the 1980's had former Czechoslovakia 11 players ranked in the ATP top 100. Marian Vajda belonged to this strong generation of tennis players. Marian won 2 ATP titles and his best ATP ranking in singles was 34. He is known for his positive attitude and organized approach. His first student Dominik Hrbaty from Slovakia moved around 400 spots in the ATP ranking to reach his career high (12 ATP) while working with Vajda. In 2006 Vajda started to work with a young Serbian player Novak Djokovic (ranked 63 ATP). It has been 10 years of a very successful relationship. Since 2006, Novak became the world no.1 player, won 11 Grand Slams, 26 Masters 1000 series, Davis Cup, bronze medal at Summer Olympics in Beijing and is generally considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Boris Becker joined Djokovic's team in 2014 team to became the new head coach, but Vajda keeps helping Novak and is still by many people in business called an important “old friend, coach and mentor” of Djokovic.

Let’s talk about the times you were known as a player and not a coach of Novak Djokovic. How would you describe yourself as a player? Disciplined, hardworking and organized, or simply a talented player who made it into top 50 ATP?

MV: I would describe myself as combination of disciplined, organized and hardworking type of a payer. I was also brought up by the former Czechoslovakian system which has proven to be a very successful one. I was growing up next to Grand Slam champions such as Jan Kodes, Ivan Lendl and Martina Navratilova. Meanwhile I was lucky to meet these legends personally as top Czechoslovak junior, which had great impact on my game.

Which are the things you kept from your career as a player and transferred in to your coaching career, that helped you the most?

MV: I’ve always done everything to try to reach my full potential, so I had to be pretty organized. Since I had no travel coach I had to learn, what to do before and after the matches by myself. I simply had to plan my professional tennis life alone, which helped me to be ready for the coaching career later on.

How would you compare working with Dominik Hrbaty, Karol Kucera and Novak Djokovic?

MV: Playing on the tour and coaching are two completely different jobs. I’ve figured it out very early when I started coaching Dominik Hrbaty. I have learned how to systematically work with the single player, but this time was trying to reach his potential instead of mine. I was learning how to recognize his personality and his social environment. This was my first lesson. The next step in my coaching career was working with already matured top 10 player Karol Kucera from Slovakia. This job was exciting and inspiring because I had to work a bit more with strategy and tactics. After I worked for Slovak Tennis Federation a bit I was approached to work with Novak Djokovic. This talented Serbian player ranked then 68 in the world became later the best player in the world. I am proud of him and I am also happy to be part of his successes since 2006 till today.

So, you’ve been working with Djokovic since 2006. Is there something specific you’ve learned about yourself and about the sport and life in general from Novak in those 10 years?

MV: With Novak it was the best school I could of imagine. He was a young player when we started working together and therefore I was able to convince this promising player with the highest ambitions into becoming more organized and using my training program. Novak is the best learner, is very flexible to work with and adapts to new thinks. This made my work very creative.

What are your plans for next few years? Were you thinking about somehow sharing your experiences with other players, coaches and parents?

MV: Boris Becker joined the team in 2014, but I am still coaching Novak and it is a very demanding job to keep him the best player in the world while looking for things to improve. Until Novak is healthy and hungry to achieve higher goals and win more trophies, then I have the responsibility to keep on helping him. I gained a lot of experience and skills to use and I want to share them with the tennis world very soon!