The announcement of Novak Djokovic’s appointment of Boris Becker as head coach sent shock waves crashing through the tennis world.
It is one big gamble for the world number two, who is looking to win a fourth consecutive Australian Open. Will it pay off?
When Andy Murray hired Ivan Lendl similar shock waves came crashing. It seemed like an unlikely pair however it has proved to be a shrewd move by the Brit, who has won two grand slams since bringing the Czech to his set-up.
Like Becker, Lendl, going into his post with Murray, hadn’t got masses of top level coaching experience. It must, therefore, be more related to the mental edge that a seasoned tennis great can have in your corner; that has aided Andy in getting over the line on the big stage. A six-time major champion, including a win aged just 17 at Wimbledon, Becker has the know-how in the big situations and hasn’t been distant from the sport in his retirement either – UK tennis fans have seen him talking tennis on the box for years now.
On the other hand, the appointment of a legend of the past can have different implications. Switching briefly to the women’s game, Maria Sharapova and Jimmy Connors lasted just one match. That bold move didn’t work out.
Irrespective of the outcome it is one hell of a statement from Djokovic, making next month’s major even tastier.
2013 saw the Serb lose two grand slam finals and one semi-final. Trailing in the rankings, could he be panicking in his catch-up of Rafael Nadal, who isn’t defending any points in the season-opening major.
Nole isn’t perceived in the same manner as his peers (Federer and Nadal, who have, of course, more slams to their name) at the top of the game. Is he out to prove something? Often I feel he is frustrated by the lack of admiration, in comparison to others, he receives.
As pointed out by tennis commentator David Law on Twitter, ironically the final comments on the BBC’s coverage of this year’s Wimbledon final were made by Becker – ‘any point will do’.
As the German said (see the below video), “I’m getting excited” about this Murray/Lendl V Djokovic/Becker – things are brewing up for 2014.
– Nathan Morley