Analysis: Djokovic defeat leaves spotlight on coach Becker

Tue Jan 21, 2014 3:37pm EST
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Television viewers are used to seeing a snappily-dressed Boris Becker offering his thoughts on the day's big matches from the safety of a comfortable sofa at Wimbledon.

On Tuesday, minus the make-up and the sharp threads, the German former world No.1 found himself perched on a court-side seat in Melbourne watching Novak Djokovic put through the wringer by Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka at the Australian Open.

From talking about the game in his familiar tones, Becker found himself a central part of the unfolding drama and, when his charge stumbled, fair game for tennis writers picking over the Serb's shock five-set defeat in the quarter-finals.

It was a surprise last month when, on the day Djokovic was named as the ITF's 2013 world champion, or player of the year, Djokovic announced Becker had joined his team despite the six-times grand slam champion never having worked as a coach.

Djokovic had just finished the year in spectacular fashion, winning 24 matches in a row since losing to Rafa Nadal in the U.S. Open final in New York in September.

Despite losing his No.1 ranking to the Spaniard in October, his game appeared to be in fine fettle as he retained the ATP World Tour finals title with a comfortable victory over Nadal in the London year-ender.

All the signs pointed to Djokovic being the man to take on Nadal for this year's big prizes, with most predicting he would start his campaign with a fourth straight Australian Open title.

Yet, Djokovic decided his game needed something extra and turned to Becker, whose attacking serve and volley style and raw power once struck fear into opponents.   Continued...

Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts during a news conference after losing his men's singles quarter-final tennis match against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 21, 2014. REUTERS/Bobby Yip