Novak Djokovic in action against Alexander Zverev in the Italian Open final.
Novak Djokovic in action against Alexander Zverev in the Italian Open final. Gregorio Borgia

Djoker turns to Agassi for coaching help

FEW players cut more miserable figures in defeat than Novak Djokovic.

And so it was at the Rome Masters after a heavy loss to German prodigy Alexander Zverev in the final.

But, buried behind the anguish of failure, there was something potentially far more significant at play in Djokovic's world.

The Serb had secretly secured the services of Andre Agassi.

However temporary the arrangement, Djokovic's coup delivered not only one of the most revered figures in tennis, but also access to an extraordinary pool of tennis intellectual property.

Agassi used one of the sharpest brains in the game to capture eight majors.

His ability to read opponents was unparalleled.

The Las Vegan once worked out Boris Becker's habit of placing his tongue in one cheek or the other was a precursor to which side of the service box the German intended to target.

Becker, the last superstar to mentor Djokovic, was utterly bewildered at how Agassi read him so well - and that was after the American deliberately faked misreading some serves even when he knew where the missiles were heading because he wanted to use the tactic mostly on crucial points.

What Agassi brings to the Djokovic table ahead of Sunday's French Open is not just street smarts.

Stability, variety and a new voice are merely some of the Agassi arsenal.

Agassi's formative influences stretch back through the decades to champions such as his former brother-in-law Pancho Gonzalez and Bjorn Borg as well as assorted other world-class professionals.

His coaching IQ stems also primarily from Nick Bollettieri, Brad Gilbert and Darren Cahill - three of the most accomplished figures in international tennis, who all worked with him.

And while the extent of the Djokovic-Agassi collaboration is decidedly skimpy at potentially just a week to start with, Agassi's input could be the spark to lift the Serb out of the doldrums.

Always a fascinating and defining cauldron, Roland Garros will be more instructive than ever this year.