Djokovic says Becker hired to improve mental toughness

Sun Feb 23, 2014 11:23am EST
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By Matt Smith

DUBAI (Reuters) - Coach Boris Becker can help Novak Djokovic acquire a greater mental toughness to better his recent record in grand slam finals, the Serb said ahead of the Dubai Championships which begin on Monday.

The world number two will return to action this week in what will be his first appearance since a bid for a fourth straight Australian Open title ended in a quarter-final defeat to eventual champion Stanislas Wawrinka.

That was Djokovic's debut tournament under German Becker's tutelage, whom he hired in December after twice losing grand slam finals to Spain's Rafael Nadal (U.S. Open) and Britain's Andy Murray (Wimbledon).

"We're not significantly changing anything in my game... no one-handed backhands, stuff like that," six-time grand slam winner Djokovic told reporters on Sunday.

"The biggest part he can contribute is the mental approach.

"That's one of the reasons Boris is here, because of the big matches and grand slams. I felt I dropped two or three titles in the last two years I could have won.

"I felt there was a mental edge I was lacking."

Djokovic, who will play Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin in Dubai's first round as he looks to defend his 2013 title, said Becker's serve and volley playing style would help him advance from his preferred position on the baseline.   Continued...

Novak Djokovic of Serbia serves as his coach Boris Becker of Germany watches during a practice session at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 12, 2014. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic