Novak Djokovic will make his return to Grand Slam tennis at the Australian Open next month and will do so with a man in tow who knows exactly how to beat Rafael Nadal – and plenty of others.
Djokovic pulled out of Wimbledon earlier this year with an elbow injury but is now back in training ahead of a return to competitive tennis on December 29 at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.
The Serb will then stay in the Middle East to compete in the Qatar Open, his first ATP event of the year, before heading to Melbourne for the Australian Open, which starts on January 15.
And he will do so with a plan concocted by strategic analyst Craig O’Shannessy, who confirmed last week that he would work with Djokovic at the first Grand Slam of the year.
O’Shannessy goes by the handle “BrainGameTennis” on Twitter and is a widely respected expert on the game, having worked for all four Grand Slam tournaments as well as the ATP, analysing matches in forensic detail.
But perhaps the Australian’s most famous achievement came in 2015 when he guided Dustin Brown to victory over Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon.
The dynamic German shocked No 10 seed Nadal in four sets with O’Shannessy in his box – and the analyst will perhaps have to undo the Spaniard once again this January.
Along with new coach Radek Stepanek, O’Shannessy will be hoping to mastermind a seventh Australian Open title for Djokovic, whose pre-season camp in Monte Carlo he also attended.
“I’ve been here all week assisting with the team of Novak Djokovic [in] pre-season training,” O’Shannessy said.
“Andre Agassi was here with Radek Stepanek the head coach organising everything this week. It’s been simple amazing.
“I learned so much just being around these guys and it’s taken my coaching to a whole new level.
“Certainly one of the highlights of my coaching career.”
He later confirmed he would remain with the Serb in Melbourne on Twitter.
“20 Grand Slam titles,” he wrote on Twitter alongside a picture of Djokovic and Agassi.
“Time to hunt again. #Djokovic #Agassi. Greatly looking forward to 2018 #AusOpen”