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Novak Djokovic needs a new coach with Andre Agassi absent, says Boris Becker

The Guardian logo The Guardian 7/06/2017 Kevin Mitchell at Roland Garros
Novak Djokovic waits at the net after losing his French Open quarter-final to Dominic Thiem in straight sets. © Reuters Novak Djokovic waits at the net after losing his French Open quarter-final to Dominic Thiem in straight sets.

Boris Becker, who split with Novak Djokovic in December, says the Serb urgently needs another full-time coach to replace Andre Agassi, who was not in his box on Wednesday when Dominic Thiem knocked him out of the quarter finals of the French Open after beating him 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 6-0 in front of a stunned audience.

The defending champion, who appeared to give up in the third set, admitted: “I’m not close to my best, and I know that.” But he refused to blame Agassi, who returned to the United States on Friday after watching only three of his matches. The former world No1 has not added to his 12 slams since winning here for the first time in 2016.

Related: Novak Djokovic crashes out of French Open to Dominic Thiem

“Novak certainly has to make a clean cut,” said Becker, who helped guide Djokovic to six majors in three years, on Eurosport. “He started to work with Agassi, a new super-coach. However Agassi missed the second week when Djokovic needed him there the most. He has to find a new Tour coach. It is said that there were conversations with some coaches who will support him, but this has to happen fast and not during Wimbledon, because Djokovic has to take advantage of the next three or four weeks to come back.”

Djokovic insisted: “Don’t put Andre in the midst of this. The final set, that’s all me. We’re gonna try to get together in Wimbledon, but that’s all for now. His influence and impact on my game, it’s gonna take time. It’s not something that comes out in the first week. We have spent seven days together. We just got to know each other. We will see where it takes us. There have been a lot of changes with the team and so forth. I’m so excited to work with Andre and the new team.”

Thiem took just one game off Djokovic in Rome two weeks ago. The 23-year-old Austrian said after the best win of his career that it was, “understandable” that Djokovic appeared to be suffering “mentally” at the end of this match. “The key for [my] first victory against him [after five straight losses] was to win this close first set, and then have a good start to the second set.”

Thiem plays Rafael Nadal for the fourth time in a month on Friday. The nine-time champion earlier went through on a retirement win over Pablo Carreno Busta.

Djokovic said of the world No7 who bamboozled him over two-and-a-quarter hours on Court Suzanne Lenglen with slice and power: “Thiem is one of the up-and-coming rising stars. He’s very hungry to beat you and to get his hands on a grand slam trophy. He’s got a really good chance. It was not there for me today, especially in the second part of the match. I was unable to hit the ball well, hit too many unforced errors. He was getting better and better and more confident as the match progressed. He deserved to win. He was definitely the better player on the court today.

“I love this sport. I’m motivated as any other player on the Tour. Even though I have played for many years, I still want to do well. The least I can do is give my all whenever I’m holding a racket in my hand. But sometimes circumstances are such that you are not able to perform as well as you want.

“I always expect a lot from myself, but it’s a fact that I’m not playing close to my best, and I know that. All the top players have been through [it]. I guess you’ve got to go through it, try to learn your lessons and figure out a way how to get out of it stronger. It’s a big challenge, but I’m up for it.”

Asked if he would take a break to refresh his mind and body, he added: “I was planning to play only Wimbledon. I might play a lead-up event; I might not. I have responsibility to the game itself, towards others. It’s not an easy decision to make.”

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