PARIS: Novak Djokovic brushed off rumours he is resorting to spiritual guidance as he tries to keep hold of his No.1 ranking from the fast-charging Andy Murray.
Djokovic cruised into the last 16 of the Paris Masters on Wednesday, beating Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-3, 6-4, but has suffered a worrying loss of form since completing a career Grand Slam at the French Open in June.
The Serb said Murray’s assault on his top ranking has “rejuvenated” him after a series of shock defeats, but the presence of Pepe Imaz in his players’ box hasn’t gone unnoticed.
While Djokovic travelled to Paris without Boris Becker and Marian Vajda for support this week, Spanish journeyman Imaz was courtside for Wednesday’s second-round match.
Imaz, once ranked in the world’s top 200, runs a tennis academy in Marbella that styles itself on prioritising a “person’s well-being, feelings and emotions”.
Djokovic features in a video entitled “Love and Peace” (Amor & Paz) on Imaz’s website, but the Serb rejected claims the Spaniard serves as his “meditation guru”.
“I don’t know where you heard that he’s a guru, first of all,” said a smiling Djokovic.
“And second of all, he’s been part of my team for several years. He worked with my brother (Marko) as well,” he added, with Imaz reportedly helping out the younger Djokovic when his career fizzled out a couple years ago.
“He’s been in tennis for all his life. I’m just glad that he came this week, together with my brother, to be with me and work with me.
“I’m not going to go into details, because there is no sense.
“I mean, to me, it’s all funny and it’s all, in the end of the day, people can say and judge and do whatever they want, so I’m not gonna give any room for speculations anymore.
“He’s been there, and he’s part of the coaching team and that’s all.”