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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday December 14, 2023

Novak Djokovic is not an island. And he couldn’t have achieved all the astronomical success has achieved without the help of a few brilliant coaches along the way. The Grand Slam king took to Instagram to express that sentiment, as he reacted to this year’s ATP Coach of the Year Award by congratulating Darren Cahill and Simone Vagnozzi for their work while giving a nod to Goran Ivanesivic for the role he played in Djokovic’s magnificent 2023 campaign.

Tennis Express

“Congratulations to Darren and Simone for a great season with Jannik,” wrote the 24-time major champion. “Goran, I guess we need to win 4/4 Slams in order for you to maybe (just maybe) be considered coach of the year. Winning Year End #1, 3 [Grand Slams] and [World Tour Finals] and making history of this sport is not enough, my dear coach…”

The nominees in the coach-voted award were Darren Cahill and Simone Vagnozzi (co-coaches of Italy’s Jannik Sinner), Juan Carlos Ferrero ( coach of Carlos Alcaraz, who won the award in 2022), Bryan Shelton (coach of Ben Shelton) and Ivanisevic.

The description of the award is as follows: “Coach of the Year: Nominated and voted on by fellow ATP coach members, this award goes to the ATP coach who helped guide his players to a higher level of performance during the year.”

When it comes to a "higher level of performance during the year", Sinner's name comes to mind. Djokovic has won three majors in a single seasons four times now, in 2011, 2015, 2021 and 2023.

ATP Coach of the Year balloting commenced in 2016. Marian Vajda won the award in 2018. Ivanesivic started coaching Djokovic in 2019. In 2021, the last year that Djokovic won three majors, Facundo Lugones, coach of Cam Norrie won the award.

ATP Coach of the Year History:

2016 Magnus Norman (Wawrinka)
2017 Neville Godwin (Anderson)
2018 Marian Vajda (Djokovic)
2019 Gilles Cervara (Medvedev)
2020 Fernando Vicente (Rublev)
2021 Facundo Lugones (Norrie)
2022 Juan Carlos Ferrero (Alcaraz)
2023 Darren Cahill and Simone Vagnozzi (Sinner)

Djokovic backing his coach is a nod to the solidarity of the team. Coaches of the Serb often don’t get the credit they deserve, perhaps because most feel that Djokovic would dominate the sport even if he coached himself. The World No.1 going out on a limb for his coach is a reminder that even GOATs need coaches.