Old rivalries resume as Djokovic hires Becker

Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:04am EST
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By Martyn Herman

(Reuters) - Boris Becker once shared a bitter rivalry with Ivan Lendl across the net and now the two former world number ones will try to outwit each other from courtside after the German's shock appointment as coach to Novak Djokovic.

After Djokovic was named ITF World Champion for 2013, despite being overshadowed by Spain's Rafa Nadal, Serbia's world number two announced the first shake-up of his team since a short and unsuccessful spell with Todd Martin in 2009.

Djokovic's decision to work with 46-year-old Becker means two of the current "Big Four" are now coached by former greats with Lendl helping Britain's Andy Murray to the 2012 U.S. Open title and this year's Wimbledon crown.

"I am really excited to have the opportunity to work with Boris," the 26-year-old Djokovic said in a statement on his website (www.novakdjokovic.com).

"He is a true legend, someone who has great tennis knowledge and his experience will help me win new trophies from the grand slams and other tournaments. Becker is a great person, too, and I am sure he will fit in our team in the best possible way."

Becker, like Djokovic a six-times grand slam champion, will replace the Serb's long-time coach Marian Vajda, although the Slovakian will remain part of the team.

The last time Djokovic tinkered with his close-knit entourage he brought in former American player Martin but the relationship was terminated in 2010 after a less than fruitful year together.

Becker will travel to all the grand slam tournaments with Djokovic, starting with next month's Australian Open where the world number two is bidding for a fourth consecutive title, having twice beaten Murray in the final.   Continued...

Tennis great Boris Becker of Germany watches the match between Richard Gasquet of France and Rafael Nadal of Spain during the men's semi-finals at the U.S. REUTERS/Mike Segar