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Tennis: Former top-10 player Fibak helps guide Djokovic

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

A new member of the coaching squad for world number one Novak Djokovic, former top-10 player Wojtek Fibak, is quickly paying dividends for the six-time Grand Slam champion from Serbia.

Djokovic cruised into the second round of the US Open on Tuesday, defeating Lithuania's 112th-ranked Ricardas Berankis 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 to launch his quest for a berth in his fourth consecutive US Open final.

"We worked very well last six, seven days of the preparations for the Open and tonight's match went really well," Djokovic said of Fibak. "He has an important role in the team. He's consulting myself."

Djokovic, the 2011 US Open champion who lost to Britain's Andy Murray in last year's final, also fell to Murray in last month's Wimbledon final and then he lost to Rafael Nadal in a Montreal semi-final and John Isner in a Cincinnati quarter-final.

"I didn't play so well in Montreal and Cincinnati in the warmup tournaments for the US Open," Djokovic said.

After that disappointment, Djokovic and coach Marian Vajda sought some extra assistance ahead of the Flushing Meadows fortnight and turned to Fibak, who spent five years as the coach of eight-time Grand Slam champion Ivan Lendl.

"It was a team decision," Djokovic said. "I never try to make decisions on my own, because even though it's individual sport, it's a team effort in the end that really counts. So we discuss everything that is on our agenda.

"We all agreed that we might need that extra help and consultation. Wojtek Fibak was the right person for us at that moment.

"He joined the team this year for the US Open. It's kind of a trial in this tournament to see how it goes, how he's going to fit in the team. We will see how it will go during these two weeks."

Fibak, who turns 61 on Friday, reached a career-best 10th in the rankings in 1977. The Pole won 15 career titles and reached the 1980 quarter-finals at the US Open, French Open and Wimbledon.

"He's been a very good player. He had a great doubles, singles career," said Djokovic. "He's somebody that has huge experience in this sport.

"He shares a big love and passion for this sport. That's something I'm looking forward to find out more from him. I think he has a great input and a great way of observing the tennis matches, so hopefully we can work together very well in this tournament."

Djokovic, who next faces Germany's Benjamin Becker, pushed himself in pre-Open workouts even before Fibak's arrival, motivated by tuneup defeats.

"I had 10 days to really give everything I can on the practice courts," Djokovic said. "I was very committed and put 100 percent into my preparations. It's starting to pay off. The first match went as well as it could. Now I need to continue on working and stay on this course."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130827/tennis-former-top-10-player-fibak-helps-guide-djokovic