Maradona makes another appearance at ATP finals

Maradona makes another appearance at ATP finals

Published Nov. 22, 2010 6:09 p.m. ET

Diego Maradona just might have another coaching job.

The former football great, who coached Argentina at this year's World Cup, sat in the crowd at the ATP World Tour Finals for the second straight day Monday and took time to meet with the players, including Novak Djokovic.

''He's actually doing coaching. You didn't know that?'' the Serb joked after winning his opening match at the season-ending event for the top eight players in the world. ''We're working on some specifics, like how to play with hands. High balls.''

Maradona was the captain of Argentina when the team won the 1986 World Cup. His infamous ''Hand of God'' goal, when he punched the ball past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton in the quarterfinals, is one of the most controversial in football history.


''I wouldn't go there. It was many years ago,'' said Djokovic, who was born nearly a year after that match. ''We all remember the 'Hand of God.'''

Djokovic, a jokester who draws belly laughs with his imitations of other players, was only kidding about Maradona being his coach, of course. But he still said it was an ''incredible honor and pleasure'' to have the Argentine's support while on the court at the O2 Arena.

''He's an image that is recognized all over the world,'' said Djokovic, who beat Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-3. ''We don't need to spend words about him. He's a big legend.''

Although the pair only met face-to-face on Monday, they have been in contact before. Djokovic said he found out that Maradona was a fan of his, so he sent the former Boca Juniors and Napoli star a shirt and a racket. Maradona replied with an autographed jersey.

Maradona went to watch Manchester City play at Fulham in the Premier League on Sunday before heading to the O2 to see Roger Federer beat David Ferrer at the ATP finals. His appearance on Monday caused a few butterflies in Djokovic's stomach.

''He's maybe the best player that ever played football. He's one of the biggest icons of the sport ever,'' said Djokovic, who spoke to Maradona in Italian. ''It's normal that we're all excited and kind of nervous in front of him when we speak to him.''

Nerves aside, Djokovic is looking forward to his support throughout the round-robin tournament.

''Hopefully,'' Djokovic said, ''he can be my lucky charm.''


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