- Image 1 of 2
- Image 2 of 2
PARIS – After Novak Djokovic reached the third round of the Paris Masters, the questions he faced were not just about his performance.
The top-ranked Serb eased to a 6-3, 6-4 win on Wednesday against Gilles Muller of Luxembourg. Nothing surprising about that.
But sitting by the court, watching Djokovic from close up, was Pepe Imaz. He was wearing a shirt with a heart shape on the front.
Imaz is a former tennis player once ranked inside the top 150 who reached the second round of the French Open in 1998.
These days the 42-year-old Spaniard runs a tennis center in Marbella, Spain, which describes itself as giving "absolute priority to the person's well-being, feelings and emotions." It is "not like most regular academy style training facilities," the website says, because it pledges to help players "regain that feeling of love both for tennis, but more importantly for yourself."
On the website there is a long video where Imaz is sat alongside Djokovic, with former Top 10-ranked Daniela Hantuchova nearby on the same row of seats.
The heading of the video is "Amor Y Paz" — which in Spanish means "Love and Peace."
During it, Djokovic closes his eyes for several minutes. He then speaks about his appreciation of meditation and the need for "happiness and harmony."
After his victory against Muller, Djokovic was asked during his news conference about his working relationship with Imaz.
"I don't know where you heard that he's a guru, first of all," Djokovic said. "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."
Pressed further about the nature of their working relationship, Djokovic wasn't keen to elaborate.
"I'm not going to go into details, because there is no sense. I know certain media is trying to find a story here in calling him guru," Djokovic said. "I'm not going to give any room for speculations anymore. He's been there, and he's part of the coaching team and that's all."