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Dimitrov on Working with Stepanek and Agassi

Pained by a sore shoulder and ongoing slump, Grigor Dimitrov is aiming for relaunch reforming Novak Djokovic's former coaching team.

The 47th-ranked Bulgarian, who split with long-time coach Dani Vallverdu earlier this month, is now working with former world No. 8 Radek Stepaenk in addition to coaching consultant Andre Agassi.

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Dimitrov fought off veteran Janko Tipsarevic in a five-set French Open victory to set up a second-round clash vs. 11th-seeded Marin Cilic.

Both Stepanek and Agassi worked together on Djokovic's coaching team before the 15-time Grand Slam champion dissolved the partnership in April of 2018 and rehired his former coach, Marian Vajda. 

Czech Davis Cup hero Stepanek, who clinched successive Davis Cup championships for his nation in 2012 and 2013, was a crafty, creative player known for his serve and net skills.

"I have known Radek for a long time," Dimitrov told the media in Paris. "I always liked the way he was thinking on and off the court. And, I mean, I was just starting when he was around. So I kind of find him very intriguing in a sense with the game that he had. In a way, he's achieved so much and has done so well.

"As you said, very creative. And I think this is what I need right now, especially that I haven't played, as I said, many matches. I've had problems with the shoulder. So I need that positive energy to surround myself with the right people."

Agassi was with Dimitrov last week as he played through qualifying in Geneva.

The 2017 ATP Finals champion said the experience Agassi and Stepanek shared working with Djokovic makes for a tight team he hopes will help him rise in the rankings.

Though Dimitrov concedes his cranky right shoulder is still not 100 percent healthy, he has been strengthened Agassi's support.

"What can I say about Andre? We have a pretty special relationship," Dimitrov said. "We've known each other for, I mean, crazy amount of years, which is something that I always cherish and for sure appreciate it. And then obviously in the past year we've started to speak a little bit more and potentially try to set up the exact weeks or how many weeks we can do, but all that is in the air now a little bit.

"Also, him and Radek are getting along so well. So it's a great package deal that we all can be on the same page even if he's away for some tournaments. It's great to have that contact. And, I mean, also those two guys have gone through so much on and off the court that also, to a certain extent, I feel I can relate to. And it's nice to know that you're not alone out there."

Photo credit: Grigor Dimitrov Instagram