Monaco, April 17: Novak Djokovic is relishing a "fresh start" with Marian Vajda back in his corner and says he can play without pain for the first time in two years after outclassing Dusan Lajovic at the Monte Carlo Masters.
Djokovic claimed his first victory since the Australian Open back in January in emphatic fashion on Monday (April 16), starting his clay-court season with a 6-0 6-1 thrashing of fellow Serbian Lajovic.
The former world number one looked a shadow of his former self during defeats to Taro Daniel and Benoit Paire in Indian Wells and Miami respectively following his return from elbow surgery.
But Djokovic was flawless in his hammering of Lajovic and although he and Vajda have not made a long-term commitment to working together, the 12-time grand slam champion says he is already reaping the rewards of being reunited with his former coach.
"It's a fresh start I think for both of us. I missed him," Djokovic said. "I have a feeling that he missed me or tennis or both.
"We both enjoyed a lot the past 10 days of practice we had. He knows me better than any tennis coach I've worked with. He's a friend. He's someone I can share a lot of things with, whether it's professional or private life. He's always there for me.
"He knows me inside-out. He knows what I need in order to get to the highest possible level of play. We could not ask for a better start.
"The first practice we had, that's what I felt. I felt safe on the court, I felt motivated, a lot of great things. We're going to both work to keep it that way."
Djokovic feels his injury problems are finally behind him as he attempts to rediscover the sort of form that has made him one of the greats of the game.
"After two years finally I can play without pain," he added.
"The intervention was done right, and I came back already after five weeks on the court from the moment I had the surgery. That's amazing.
"I still obviously wasn't ready game-wise, physically. So Indian Wells and Miami were really kind of a struggle on the court for me mentally. I know that I can play much better than that, but I couldn't. I just wasn't ready."